a quick trip north for new year's...

Ever since I fell in love with Montreal I have wanted to see the city in winter.  Everyone told me it was rigid and oppressive - and I suspect that if it is -0 for months on end that is true - but this place can be frigid and bleak, too.  And, with the proper gear, the snow is magic (at first and then, of course, it becomes dirty and ugly everywhere.) So, we made a point to schedule a few days in-between Christmas and New Year's Day to be away.  We left in what amounted to a blizzard - Montreal got 8" or more by the time it was over - but the roads were not terrible for most of the trip. And after a quick nap upon arriving on Thursday, we spent two hours walking in the dark and the snow taking in Parc St. Louis, Boulevard St. Laurent and eventually St. Denis. There was no wind, the snow was relentless and it felt and looked like heaven.

On Friday, it was freakin' freezing with a bitter wind - so we spent the better part of the day exploring the Underground City. Mile upon mile of Montreal conceals shops, eateries and walk ways below street level designed to make life interesting and endurable during the wicked cold. And thousands of Montrealers were taking advantage of the end of the year end holiday. Once again both Di and discovered we need about two weeks of vigorous immersion en français
before our ears (and eyes) can get back into the groove. So, we got lost time and again - and that increased our frustration level. Funny how one's equanimity is directly related to adequate rest, caffeine, food and safety.  It was yet another lesson in humility and listening carefully. We closed out the evening, after another nap, however, at our favorite haunt:  Dièse Onze (check it out:  http://www.dieseonze.com/) The Nomads o Swing were playing and were they ever on firet! What's more, we found ourselves invited back for Saturday's five course French dinner on New Year's Eve. And we struck up a conversation with a young Quebecois doctor who had studied acupuncture at Harvard. After a lovely conversation, we made plans to share a meal together again this coming April when we return for Dianne's CELTA studies. C'est bon!

Saturday was spent at the Old Port in the bitter cold. We wound up buying massive scarves like the locals to hide all but our eyes.  By early afternoon it was snowing again - another five inches hit the city by midnight - and the place felt like something out of a fairytale. New Year's Eve was spent taking in incredible jazz, wonderful French food and meeting yet another
Massachusetts guest at the bar. We walked home in the light snow and gave thanks to God for the time, resources and blessings that allowed us to take this quick trip North.

Two things were clarified during our time away for me: first, I REALLY have to do some work learning Quebecois French!  We're adventurous, most of the folk we meet are kind, patient and bi-lingual and if they speak slowly I can figure most things out reasonably well. But, everyday conversation? Quelle horreur! So, over the next few years that will become a priority. Second, given my dreams and prayers, when I move into full-time retirement it is clear that we're going to spend serious time in this part of creation.  That's not news to our friends, but it continues to be a place of refreshment and renewal that I ache to explore more deeply. Now we are home:  I picked up Lucie from the kennel, took Di to work and finished a new Epiphany liturgy for Sunday. Later, I'll get some bass practice in, too. Blessings and Happy New Year to you all.

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