Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Lost and Found

clear, cold, windy, minus a gazillion

Hard to believe just a week ago I was in a cotton sundress in Phoenix, Arizona. On one side of me a honey-mooning couple were doing 'something' in the hotel pool and on the other side of me the inauguration of Barack Obama on television. I chose to watch the television.

It was 85 degrees and I was there to launch my latest book, A RULE AGAINST MURDER.

Now, here I am in Quebec City - minus 25 - and clutching a hotwater bottle like a babe. Indeed, there seems something biblical about this. Definitely Old Testament.

However, in the midst of the bitter cold, we found Paradise. Well, steak frites. And, in case any doubt remained, profiteroles. We had dinner last night half a block up the street (Saint-Stanislas) at the Entrecote St Jean - on rue Saint-Jean. Outside the mullioned and frosty windows people hurried by and Christmas lights gleamed on the snow, and inside we were toasty and warm eating steak and french fries and ice cream filled pastry drizzled with warm, dark chocolate.

The only thing that might have marred the picture was us...our clothes were fine, but our heads lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. It's the bane of a Quebec winter. Hat Head. And static electricity. As soon as we get indoors and take off our tuques (hats) our hair stands straight up, as though we've had a fright or a particularly good idea.

But then comes the fall. At some point during dinner some of the static electricity leaves (I wonder where it goes) and the hair falls. But not all of it. The hair that does subside then clings to whatever skin is exposed. Neck, cheek, ears. Half the hair plastered to the face, the other half reaching for the stars.

A Quebec winter is a test of true love. I had the great pleasure of sitting across from Michael and his grey Mohawk. And he got to see me - little Richard Simmons.

Then, when we touch each other we run the risk of electrocution. If we could just harnass this energy we could run the whole city.

Had a wonderful day yesterday...read 100 pages of proofs for the next book and set up an appointment with someone who knows all the history of this place where the body will be found. That will be on Thursday. I still need to find someone who can tell me about Samuel de Champlain. The founder and father of Quebec, 400 years ago. Whose body has never been found. They've somehow lost the founder. And it remains the biggest mystery in Quebec history.

I'm here to solve it. And eat croissants. Wish me luck.


Anonymous said...

We ate lunch at Entrecote St Jean when we were in Quebec City over New Year's. We also loved sitting in the toasty restaurant and watching the people bustling by in the cold and snow. And they still have the Christmas lights up? Did you see the figures across the street made from musical instruments? I look forward to hearing all about the Winter Carnival - it sounds like (cold!) fun.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Anon,

No - I didn't notice those figures, but will look tomorrow for them.

We're also hoping to find the ice hotel...a hotel made entirely of ice.

hilary said...

Champlain is super mysterious. Apparently, even the image of him that has come down to us may not be him at all. There was a great documentary -- I believe on CBC, but perhaps TVO -- about Champlain -- with artists' renditions of what he might, actually, have looked like -- much more mucho, some of them, than the standard goateed profile we usually get.

Presuming it's not his body you find?!

Am enjoying the trip to Quebec City -- Canada's Jewel in the Crown.(Is them fightin' words?)

hilary said...

....macho, that is....

Anonymous said...

The Ice Hotel is at Station Duschesne (sp?) - an easy 30 minute drive from Quebec (but not well sign-posted once you are off the highway.) We were there two days before it opened (for dog-sledding which was loads of fun but really cold) and didn't even get a glimpse. I would love to hear your impressions.

And I should have mentioned that it was on the way home from Quebec that I saw your books at the airport. I didn't pick one up because my bag was already past the limit for carry-on. :( But then I came home and found the review in the Charlotte Observer and picked up the three that were out - and read them all that weekend. I was thrilled that another one was coming and pre-ordered A RULE AGAINST MURDER. I have really enjoyed reading them all and I am glad to know that there are more on the way!

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Hilary,

Mucho Macho! I actually saw that show! A good friend called from Montreal to tell us it was on (just before Christmas I believe) so we watched it. Very interesting stuff!

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Anon,

funny you should mention the ice Hotel - I just googled it and found the location - now trying to figure out how to get there without a car...there must be buses. I need to call or email them.

It sounds as though you had a wonderful trip - including dog sledding. So romantic, I always think.