|Daytime view from our hotel|
|Overlooking a Chinatown building|
In one doorway a young, punk-ish, Canadian woman in a neon yellow jumper with hot pink hair leans against the stone and smokes with a grimace on her face. Bicycles zoom past. Postal workers deliver mail. We pass many cafes serving freakishly expensive lunch and choose one for ourselves.
The Latin Quarter looks different during the day than the night before when it was dark and pouring rain. Sloping gently uphill, the neighborhood is lined with restaurants and shops splashed with bright colors. The homes too, are often bright, either in the color of the buildings, the roofs or the trim, but also in the plants. There are lots of flowers, spilled over in planters along the sidewalk, from fire escapes, or from window boxes. The most popular flower seemed to be begonias, reminding me of Paris. It feels homey, in a very trendy way, and reminds me a bit of the East Village in New York City. Perhaps true trendiness is when you make no effort to do so, but despite your best efforts, you just are trendy. I will never claim to be trendy because in plain and simple terms, I am not and will not ever be trendy. I just don't know how to do it, or be it. I marvel at trendy people, thank god for them, because I think it is an art I really appreciate, especially having no skill for it myself. The people on the streets look like they live here, they know where they are going, as opposed to the people in the touristy section, wandering, looking aimlessly around. Here, if you are walking on the sidewalk you have a place to go and things to do. The air is filled with musical French conversation, like a language symphony. It is so real and enveloping that I get the feeling that if I stayed here awhile I would naturally start speaking it too, it would just spout out, like a fountain from some expressive place within me, you just can't help it. I like hearing this foreign language, which I can not say about all foreign languages. For instance, I don't enjoy hearing Chinese when I am in Chinatown (or anywhere else for that matter) it just doesn't appeal to my ears. Maybe it is the tones and the rhythm, I'm not sure. I remember in one of my favorite movies, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Cristina tells Maria Elena that she took Chinese in college because she thought it sounded pretty. Maria Elena asks Cristina to say something in Chinese, which she does and after which, Maria Elena says dubiously, "You think that sounds pretty?" I was glad I am not the only one. I am not really picking on Chinese, really, I won't say I think English sounds pretty either, but I am not going to analyze it, I can't, it is just my native language, it is not a choice. But if I were to choose a language, simply because it sounded nice, I might pick French, or maybe Italian. Thinking of all this makes me want to go to Spain, Italy and France. Sometimes I get the travel bug so bad I actually feel a strong feeling in my stomach akin to sickness, almost like nervousness but more like yearning.
Speaking of Italian, we stopped in a gelato place, but I guess it is French gelato. I ordered lemon, which did not taste like creamy gelato, instead it was more like Italian water ice that I can't find anywhere west of Pittsburgh, and it was exactly what I wanted. In this neighborhood, I like how there are bright colors,
After leaving the Latin Quarter we walked through a more subdued neighborhood, lined with old-fashioned, city townhouses with long, long steps reaching out from the house down to the sidewalk. I found these a bit odd, strange, compared to the Victorian townhouse steps of San Francisco. We find the park, Parc La Fontaine. It is cool, emerald green, with a large snaking pond dotted with tall, swooping trees. Therese could not get over the amazing grass. She kept saying, "I love this grass! We didn't have anything like this in Iraq." She didn't talk about her time in Iraq very often. She then told us a story about how visiting generals or bigwigs of some rank, were asking why the soldiers did not pull the weeds around their FOB, or military post. The bigwigs complained, but the soldiers left the weeds because it was the only green thing they ever got to see in the parched, summer, Iraq desert. Somewhere, even weeds are precious and a welcome sight. This thought makes me smile.
We exited Montreal just as the Monday rush hour traffic starts. We zoomed past farmland and meadows full of multi-colored wildflowers. French signs turn into English signs. The sunny skies turn into overcast skies, which turn into rain. It was raining in Sackets Harbor and looks like it has done so all day. Merle is excited to see us. He had good reports from the dog sitter. I packed quickly. I am leaving very early in the morning. My flight to Salt Lake City is scheduled to land around 1pm, after which, I am supposed to drive to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to visit the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Paul called, there was an escaped murderer hiding out in Yellowstone National Park. Hmm... the chances of this affecting me was remote. But, I would be camping and hiking by myself. Hmm... a female by herself in a rather remote part of the country with an escaped convict who had already killed two people in their camper in New Mexico the week before. Maybe they would see me as an easy target. Maybe he would gone by the time I got there. Maybe he would be captured by the time I got there. Maybe not. Maybe it wasn't worth the chance, however remote. I didn't want to became a news story or a statistic. Maybe I am being paranoid, absurd, ridiculous. Maybe I am too cowardly to take risks. Maybe this kind of risk is just dumb. I would be so disappointed to miss the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, which was supposed to be the climax of my hiking and landscape excursions. Maybe I should just go with the flow, turn my canoe downstream, make the best of it, use sound judgment, not let my expectations and emotions make my decisions. I could go see Becki in southern Utah. I didn't want to go there originally because it would be too hot, but I did want to see her. It is beautiful where she lives, although a different beauty. There is plenty to do while she is at work and after work I can hang out with her. All these thoughts raced through my mind over a span of about five seconds. I had my decision.
I finished packing and hung out with Therese and we talked until midnight. I was sad to be going, to be leaving family. So sad, such a familiar sadness every time I leave, I can hardly take it.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Sackets Harbor, New York:
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