Wednesday, October 4, 2017

frigidaire littéraire / St. Lawrence River

I have to love a place where a fridge tells me to take a book and leave a book.

Where the window frames, doors and roofs of old barns are painted red and pink.

Where people make plant pots that scream against depredations to the environment. There's a poem to that effect beside the posts. These are pots crying for oxygen, clean air, clean water. Les Crieuses.

And there's that big, old river, the St. Lawrence. 

In Montreal, I cycle and walk and gab with friends by the river. The banks are green with willows, poplars, maples. There are islands and rapids and herons and ducks.

Last weekend we drove four hours northeast, following the river past apple orchards and cornfields, past Quebec City, to where the land broadens and flattens to marsh and agricultural land. Across the river are the Charlevoix mountains. That's a beautiful region too, but I'm loyal to my side of the shore.

We stayed a couple of nights in L'Islet in an auberge that was posh and comfy because it was my birthday. Lovely room, luxurious bed, tongue and groove walls, inset cabinets.

For my own personal tastes, there was a surfeit of knickknacks, fabric flowers, cushions and other gewgaws piled, hung and fluffed about. In our room alone, I counted 14 cushions, not including the pillows for sleeping. Six bouquets of cloth flowers, not including the many sprigs tucked here and there.

I like wall painting. And yeah, geese flying in a V formation especially near marshland. But... sideways?
R said I was being too literal. So I was. So I am. Why would a birthday make a difference?

Breakfast was excellent! Two slabs of French toast made with homemade bread, served with homemade apple jelly, garnished with a homegrown nasturtium. Maple syrup on the side. Lace tablecloth too.

The auberge was across the street from the extremely well-curated Musée Maritime du Québec. My interest in the river extends to the stories of what's been lived upon it. (And in the river, but that's a different kind of museum.) There was a barn full of boats, videos of ships' pilots talking about their adventures, a sewing machine half my height for the sewing of sails, maps of where ships had foundered along shores of the St. Lawrence, tales of how villages were settled and named after ships or shipwrecks, a video of a man caulking the seams of a boat with oakum.

Caulking... oakum. The resonance of those words alone make me want to write a story.
Ditto the thick glass of a brass-ringed porthole that was smashed during a shipwreck.
Did you know that it's an omen of death to dream about a ship entering a harbour that's frozen?

Everything has to fit onto a boat, so non-ship-specific items are of necessity compact and small. Look at the size of this captain's typewriter, 1904.

Outside was a ship--an icebreaker in coast guard service from 1940 to 1978--that we walked through. Notice the difference between how the officers and ship's crew were housed.

We went for a hike in the hills, walking along their sleeping backs.

And back down to the river...


  1. Thanks, Alice, great blog, as usual. Love the sideways geese. Happy B-day!

  2. Alice what a wonderful travelogue! Thank you. I love the frigidaire litéraire!