Ma vie en français

J'adore la ville de Québec! Here I am, back after a six month absence, and so comfortable now. Just bought trois tournesols pour célébrer! Personne m'a repondu en anglais. I have made progress enough to understand and be understood en français.

This is the fifth time I have arrived for a stay of several months in this beautiful  City founded four centuries ago. J'adore le son de la langue française on the streets, des pierres partout, stone buildings with wooden window and door sashes in French blue, a rusty or bright red, ochre, light or deep greens. This time I live just off rue St Paul, on a small côte of cobblestone, in a 200 year old building with wooden posts at least a foot thick. Formidable! At this time of year the city is full of tourists whose faces are hidden behind cameras pointed up at mansard roofs, cupolas, spires. Bells peal from scores of church towers, a joyous sound no matter your religion.

The papers are full of opinion about Madame la Première's proposed charter of Québec values, the one that contains the contentious prohibition of religious garb in government workplaces. She was born feisty, Pauline Marois. In this age of multiculturalism, she must have known the furor this proposal would incite. Is it simply a matter of separating church and state, right down to dress codes for government workers, or is she trying to appeal to the worst in an electorate that has been under the threat of non-French invasions since the battle of the Plains of Abraham? Qui sait, mais c'est un commencemant intéressant.

As for la vie littéraire, my second night here I met with members of the book club who had  read Centre/Center, my third book. Pleased that they thought it a "true" representation of the 60's, that one woman in particular was sad when the book ended ( a real compliment; I have had that feeling about my favourite books), and surprised that the book evoked a spirited discussion about the Vietnam war. That old wound seems to fester still, and not very far below the surface.