Le vieux port en automne

The Emerald Princess taking on stores, vast sacks of potatoes and onions, flats of drinks, cartons of paper products, reminds me of novels I read, set in the tropics, lines of shirtless men hefting crates from hand to hand to hand towards a lighter that would ferry the goods to some tall masted ship.  The skin of the labourers seems to always have been glistening with sweat, their muscles straining or rippling. Of course these scenes took place under an equatorial sun - for some reason I think of Bahia, Jorge Amado - while  here in Quebec the air is brisk and the bateau croisière far bigger than any tall masted ship, almost too big to imagine it sailing, but it will, the last this season to be piloted out of the Port of Quebec, down le fleuve to the Gulf of St Lawrence and the next port of call. A bustle, a flurry of capped and gloved stevedores, if that is what they are still called, delivery vans and forklifts around the modern, plexiglass-covered gangplank. Thick blue nylon ropes hold the vessel to shore, for now.

In Bassin Louise, there are more rectangles of open grey water than boats alongside the slips. Only the lovely teaching vessel Marie Clarisse remains tethered to her usual place, for now. The Marché is virtually empty. Clear bags bulging with kilos of apples, Honey Crisp, Cortland, Macintosh and other varieties; bundles of green and white leeks like displays of stiff feathers at the front of the stands. Paper and nets sacks des pommes de terre, cheerful pumpkins of all sizes, some cut into chunks and packaged for soup, the sombre beauty of purple cabbages and eggplants, baskets of  the pale dependable butternut squash. The aisles are clear of the tourists that flock here in season, and the locals who shop on weekends. Stall keepers have time to answer questions, for now.

At  Les Cafes du Soleil, across Quai Saint André, reading  the hunting and fishing column in Québec's daily Le Soleil, I learn that a 78 year old woman bagged her first orignal, a mature bull moose, this season.
First snow this week. Last year the snow arrived a full month later.