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Sunday in Montreal

Chris and I had not factored in a heat wave. The weather reports did not warn us that it would be 32 degrees in Montreal, feeling like more. Yesterday, in Old Montreal, there were hordes of tourists on the shady side of the streets, and no one on the blazing side.

We ducked into air-conditioned shops and galleries, admired the beautiful historic buildings and streets, and finally took a chilly cab home. But first, we’d met friends of Chris’s – a woman who was his roommate on a francophone tour of India he took years ago, and her gay best friend, a tour guide who knows the entire world. We met at Chris’s inn and they drove us to Old Montreal where we had a wonderful lunch, alternating French and English. And then Chris and I continued to wander about on our own. There was a street fair and market, a fun event with people dressed as 17th century settlers, traditional crafts, lots of music and food – and some shade. It was, as is so much in Montreal, bursting with energy and life.

We couldn’t get into the Cathedral because there was a wedding. There were weddings all over Old Montreal, in fact, all over Montreal, bells ringing, brides in their whipped cream garments and lines of women in very high heeled shoes and shiny matching dresses, being photographed. Later, as we went for supper on the rue St. Denis, there was an about-to-be married man being humiliated, led about in prison garb and beaten with a fly swatter. Odd, these strange humiliation rituals pre marriage that I’ve seen often in France – and nowhere else.

I also marvelled once again at Parc Lafontaine, one of my new favourite places on earth, packed again yesterday, morning and night, with picnickers. I realized that in Ontario, public places are also full of picnickers – but they’re all immigrants, people from India, the Caribbean, the Middle East. WASPS do not take themselves in large numbers to public places to dine. Perhaps it’s because they’ve lived there longer and have bigger backyards. Or perhaps they’re just too snooty.

CT and I did not picnic, we dined again outside on the street; this time I’d brought rosé with me, and it was he who dashed to the SAQ across the street to buy a half-bottle of champagne. That’s how affected he is by Montreal, a man who mainlines diet Coke drinking champagne with his scallops. It was thrilling. We do not stop talking, ever. Kindred spirits, he and I, in so many ways. Watching the bicycle stand across the street in constant motion, as people arrived, returned their bikes, others arrived to take them out. Whoever invented this bike system is a genius. Hire him to fix Toronto.

Chris has happily spent mornings walking, and I doing very little. I spent a tranquil morning yesterday, and today, reading “The girl with the dragon tattoo.” Just finished it. Yes, I skipped a few hundred pages in the middle, which I should not have done. But I got the gist, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Who knew it wasn’t just a thriller but a critique of the world banking system and the journalists who give it a free pass? Terrific work. I also enjoyed Nora Ephron’s satiric take, “The girl who fixed the umlaut,” in the “New Yorker.” As usual, she has perfect pitch.

Now, out into the broiling sun to – guess what – walk and eat and walk and look at things and walk. This must be summer vacation.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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