Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A very fine house

Sunny, mild, temps 16

Nice day - perfect spring day. young leaves on the trees here in Montreal. I'm just back from speaking to a meeting of school librarians. It's an annual meeting for them and they hold it in a school in north end Montreal. mA part mof the city I don't know. Thank God for GPS.

Had a fun time and they invited me to stay for lunch- catered by the adlut students studying the culinary arts. Yum.

Had loads of fun in the Laurentians the past couple of days. Drove the car to a new dealership to get the tires changed and tune-up. We have a BMW - a treat for Mihael when I signed the last contract. Nice car - though I wopuildn't recommend it. Really ridiculous computer system for everything. Not at all intuitie. Need 2 people to drive the car. Ugh. And the service at the place we bought it was atrocious. Don't expect that from a highend dealership.

So once lease is up we're giving it up - bersides with the environment a priority we'll give up the second car and downsize to something more responsible.

But we so hated the BMW service we called another dealership and they sounded nicer so we took the car in there Monday and they were fine. About time we changed the winter tires - now that leaves are on the trees and the daffs are up!

The we picked up the loaner and drove north into the mountains and Lac Manitou. I used to go there as a child. As we drove along the dirt road all sorts of memories flooded back...blueberry picking with my gradnfather, walking nwith him holding my hand and him reciting poetry. Reading in the bedroom as a child. Laughing so hard with my friend vicky while baking cookies for a boy we both had a crush on that we peed on the floor. First kiss, first dance, first broken heart. Through the grate in my bedroom I heard my parents decide to separate. Life. I think I became aware there, at Lac Manitou.

It was amazing to be back - and as something so far removed from the gawky, awkward, little girl. Something no one, least of all I, could have predicted. A successful novelist.

And yet, not so far. It still felt like home.

Stayed with the Vicky's parents, Gwen and Tuppy - and Vicky came from ottawa. We sat on the veranda overlooking the lake and had tea. Such fun to be there with Michael. Then had dinner, Monday night, and went to bed.

Their home is for me the quintessential country home. Wood and shingled and rambling, filled with regatta pennants and arts from generations, some accomplished some not much more than finger painting. It was calm and comforting and comfortable.

It felt magical. And Tuppy and Gwen, now well into their 80's, were gracious and warm - felt like my own parents. And Vicky and I giggled like school girls and took the dog for a walk in the rain.

Then next day, Tuesday, spoke to the Laurentian Club (an off-shoot from the Canadian Club)- about 100 people there - many I knew from childhood too. Who'd come to see little Louise Penny, all grown up. Bar Mussels was there. 92 years old. And Dune and Mary.

Felt so comfortable. In a career that sometimes doesn't feel comfortable, where the idea is to try new things, get out of the comfort zone. To meet strangers, and speak to large crowds...things that are comfortable are precious.

This was precious.

As was getting to share it with Michael. And now you.

Off to Washington tomorrow for Malice Domestic...not taking the laptop but will try to find a computer to blog on. If not, it will probably be next wednesday.

Be well.


lil Gluckstern said...

What a moving post. I have places like that, where we loved and laughed as children-and learned too many things that we had trouble handling. I am beginning to think that I do need you to manage and ground my own day. Is that a scary thought? You have a gift, indeed, for sharing and validating your readers' lives.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing your childhood life at the lake. I, too, had a sort of magical time at a summer cottage. My husband did not, nor have my own children experienced anything like it, having grown up in Washington,DC, and when I start to talk about "the cottage" they roll their eyes and all but say, "Here she goes again." My cottage memories were fortunately validated when an English cousin, who had been evacuated to Canada to spend the war years with my grandparents, wrote about her time in at the same cottage and the physical freedom she had here. She is a former writer for the Guardian and a biographer of some note, so I felt much better about my own nostalgia. Sadly, the actual place has been swallowed by suburban Gatineau, north of Ottawa, so it lives on only in memory (and photos).

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Lil,

What a lovely thing to say. We do it for each other, all of us, don't we. Tell each other it's ok to be who we are. What a relief.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Elizabeth,

Yes, you've caught it exactly. People who haven't had the experience have no idea how deep it goes...and how much a part of us yearns to crawl back there.

I know though friends who went to camp and had similar experiences I can't begin to understand. And Michael has wonderful memories of summer's by the ocean in Maine. That's what he yearns for. Colours and smells and sounds that mean nothing to me.

We're hoping to go this year.

Jo B. said...

Those childhood memories stay with you, don't they? My brother and sisters have kept the family property in the mountains of North Georgia. We have a lake and turned the old barn into a large room for family reunions...have to make memories for all the grandkids! It isn't fancy, just very rustic, but we love it.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Jo B,

Oh, I can almost smell your place (believe it or not, that's a compliment)... years of log fires and sweet woods and coffee. Your country home sounds divine.