Journeys can be planned, but they usually hold many fascinating surprises. We set off to enjoy the beautiful autumnal foliage, which seems particularly beautiful this year, zip through Vermont and land in Montreal. We were enjoying the foliage, but stopped at a Rest Area in Vermont. First we were surprised by the big sign, Free Wi-Fi. Oh why hadn’t I brought the laptop?! We found that all the Vermont rest areas had Wi-Fi and many also had fax machines. A lot of work must be done on these highways.
Then we realized this handsome building with its beautiful landscaping was the Vermont Vietnam Memorial. The surprises continued as we wandered into the attached greenhouse and found that it was actually a Living Machine that treated all the wastewater produced in the rest area. This was a fascinating model of a way to handle wastewater, especially as we realize what a vital issue clean water will be in the coming years.
Montreal was beautiful and COLD! Wind! And even so roses were blooming at the Jardin Botanique. Including many tea roses. I want to find out if they just figure they will have to replace many of the tea roses every year, or if they have some secret way of protecting them through the snowy cold winters. Over 10,000 roses of many types are planted in the ‘river of roses’ that wind through the garden, but there were unexpected surprises including all the tuberous and bedding begonias that were still blooming heavily.
When we got to Quebec Ville our host, Grant, took us to an old historic park. The Bois do Coulonge has once been the home of the Lieutenant Governor, but the mansion burned long ago. The charming guard house remains as does what looks like a lovely chateau but is the servants’ housing, and the root house located next to the old vegetable gardens that needed to be extensive to feed not only the LG and his family, but all the servants. And as we were reminded many times during our Canadian visit, the winters are long there. A great deal of food needed to be put by, and people had to eat according to the seasons. We are trying to return closer to that system ourselves, and I was amazed at the size of the root house.
But the real reason for our trip to Canada was to visit our friends the McConnell family who we met when we were all working in Beijing in 1989. Grant is a linguist, Edmonde a talented and skilled textile artist. Sage Elise was 10 when we met her. She encouraged us in our bad French and was toujours charmante and gentille. She remains so, as do her parents, but she is also an ‘orthophonist’ (speech therapist) at a local hospital. Her work is so much more than I ever imagined was encompassed by the field of speech therapy. She works with the infants born with various and often extremely serious degrees of cleft palate.
In the garden we make of our life, our friends are among the most beautiful blooms. Sometimes we are privileged to watch the little seedlings grow, thrive and put out beautiful flowers, but also nourishing fruits. We may not have been the attentive gardeners, but we can share the joy.
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Mon dieu! My french would also be poor, but would love to try it out (10 years of schooling and it can’t all be gone, right?). I keep seeing posts from people just getting back from Canada, and maybe it’s time I finally go to Quebec like I’ve always wanted. Anyway, enjoying your blog, thanks.