Saturday, 31 January 2009

Mad anglo on the loose

light, fluffy flurries, mild, temps minus 2

Just snuck out of bed. have been awake for a while staring out the window at the huge, soft snow flakes drifting down. It's mesmerizing. Also staring at the swarthy man stripped to his tee-shirt on the roof next door, shovelling.

Really, there's more pedestrian traffic on the third floor than on the main floor. He's strapped onto ropes and harnasses (which, honestly, only adds to the attraction) and is working so hard he must have over heated. His name is Emile and when he isn't shoveling snow to support his poor mother and sick sister, he writes poetry and is working on his first novel. OK, that last part I made up.

Really, what an amazing city that is so gorgeous. As though the snow, the cobblestoned narrow streets, the old walls and homes, the kind and generous people, the French food wasn't enough now old Quebec City offers near naked men on roofs to wake up to.

I LOVE this city.

Michael and I had such fun yesterday. Great breakfast with Peter, who managed to score us rare and precious tickets to THE social event of the Quebec Winter Carvival - the brunch at the Chateau Frontenac on the day of the finals of the canoe race across the St. Lawrence. All the dignitaries in town sip champagne, eat gourmet food and watch the race below. That's next Sunday, Feb 8th.

From breakfast we headed off to hear Prof David Hackett Fischer, whose latest book is called Champlain's Dream. We were told about his lecture (he's visiting from Brandeis Univ. outside Boston) and it fit so well with what I'm researching we decided to drop by.

We arrived to discover it was in a board room of the Quebec Ministere des Affaires Internationale. they asked, at the door, who we were and whether we had an invitation. We looked at each other and a very kind woman piped up, 'Oh, did Matthieu invite you?'

'Oui', we said. They showed us in and sat us near the head of the table. then a bunch of Quebec officials arrived, including the Minister of International Affairs himself. They were all very charming, though perplexed by the strangers, in jeans, at the head of the table.

This was a private talk given by the Professor. To Quebec government officials. And us.

But once again, Quebec showed her tolerance. There was no way those people didn't know we didn't really belong. But they let us stay and treated us as honoured guests.

We chatted afterward then left...walked home via rue St jean outside the gates, and went into Le Moisin - a fabulous Epicerie...cheeses, baguette, pates and terrines - fruits and vegetables, spices and jams...cookies and pastries. Home.

We bought the shop out and staggered home. We hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast so we lit the fire, got into our sweats, fried up the hot water bottle (which later sprang a leak all over Michael - disaster!) and had a lunch/dinner of pears and apples, baguette and cheeses and terrines.

This morning, while I stared at heroic Emile on the roof across the way, we heard the garbage truck...our garbage bag was sitting in the kitchen, waiting. Michael, dear one, raced down, threw on his boots and a coat and ran outside, chasing the garbage truck a block - finally catching it right at the Entrecote St jean.

Another mad Anglo - in middle of winter, wearing boots, a night dress and running through the snowy streets of quebec with a bag of garbage. Now, I wonder why they want to separate?

Quebec Winter Carnival started last night. Went to bed with the sight of fireworks over the roofs.


Keep well and warm. And thank you.


Jo B. said...

Your blog with the descriptions of all your winter adventures could be a novel. I'm loving reading it and look forward to each posting. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Dear Louise,

God you really made me laugh with this one, often do, but can just picture Michael chasing the garbage truck in his night clothes. Now that would be something I would do! Really enjoying your trip along with you but miss you both and can't wait for you to come home.



Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Jo,

So glad you're enjoying Quebec City! And happily it will be a novel, in about 18 months. What a great job - where I get to come here for a month to research a book. Amazing.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Janet,

I bet you can just see Michael chugging down the road. Great to hear from you janet, and we miss you too! See you in a few weeks.

Cece said...

If Gamache rushes down the street chasing the garbage truck (or even better-Beauvoir) I will have to put the book down and just laugh.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Cece,

You were reading my mind. Will play with it. A dignified man placed in an undignified position, but seeing the humour in it.