Tag Archives: Quebec

Summer memories: Canada

It had been two years since we had been home yet it didn’t feel like it. Within moments I felt the warmth of home and spent the following weeks wanting never to leave.

Fresh farmer’s markets, silky cold lakes, dangled feet off the dock, sushi and lipstick shopping with girlfriends, talking late into the night, white wine and dinners in the country, tubing on the lake, too fast, too quick, and Trooper and Princess reunited with their best friends since before they can remember. Dock kisses and roots, stronger than words or tears, rooftop dinners and kitchen coffees. Godchildren, godparents, picnics and BBQs, winding roads and graffiti splattered walls. Construction everywhere and the shock of too many red lights after the anarchy of Africa. The shock of the new and the comfort of the old.  Ancient Quebec city, sunshine pouring around us, above us, within us, family, blood and love.

Until next year Canada.

 

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West, Photography

Lazy days of summer

I am back. I am not sure if I haven’t lost my faithful readers of 3limes during my summer hiatus, it was the longest break in the the 3 years I have been writing. 3 years that has seen me through Trinidad, the Uganda years and now here we are in Bahrain. 3 years, 3 moves, 3limes.

But before we say hello to Bahrain I think we need a look back at the Summer of 2011.

 

 

London Montreal San Francisco Montreal London

8 flights

15 beds

Oh Canada

Canadian lakes

canoes and docks

fishing and champagne

sisterhood

forest walks

Montreal dining

sushi and cappucino

I love America

Toe dipping in the Pacific

girls surfing

wine tasting

California driving

family reunions

God Save London

London days

theatre

cousin love

country walks

pub lunches and old friends

Art, red buses and pavement pounding

From the Pacific to the Thames, icy Quebec lakes to the warm Bahrain sea, this summer has crossed time and memory. I have slipped through the shadow of years, made a tiny chink in the wall of time, visited the past before diving into the future.

And nearly 2 months without writing, reflecting and giving pause for thought. I have missed blogging but needed that in between space, the freedom to live unconnected with no screen and no keys to tap my days.

 

 

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West, La belle ville, Photography, Travel

More summer limes.

 

Sun desperately trying to get through these dark clouds. I haven’t been this cold in a long time. In London during the snow storm of the century I was cold, but then, it was snowing, it was to be expected. It has been forever proven that I am a warm weather girl. I get very sad when my bones ache with cold. At night I sleep clenched, trying to stay warm, longing for a hot water bottle. Last Saturday, at 4pm on July 4th as I sat huddled, practically in the fire place, I decided once and for all that I will never own a country house here in Quebec. That was quite the epiphany moment there. This is my home, the place I love and I have decided that I will never again own a home here. I simply hate to be cold.

Now please don’t imagine that I am complaining. Yes, I might grumble now and again as I borrow another sweater but I am still happy to be here.

 

And I do live in hope, I have a pretty Trini sundress hanging in the closet.

 

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Does anybody know a remedy for the problem of teens and their selective blindness? Pull out a pack of cigarettes to have a quiet and sneaky cig and they are as sharp as a hungry seagull. Walk into a room and see a pair of crotch in your face underwear left centre stage and they are as blind as a mole. I point them out. Even walk them through the room like a private visitor to an exclusive gallery, but even if they see it, the mess, the strewn clothes, it is with the blurry vision of the carefree teen. These things are just not important!

But I think they are, along with table manners, talking back and general politeness. I know a lot of parents, tired from the constant fighting, just give it up and sweep the discord under the proverbial rug. Then bitterness ensues, complacency and the eventual silence at the dinner table. Parents then become so surprised to learn that it was their child who gate crashed the party in a bikini.

So I might be the nag, the mom who forces then to pick up, the recipient of many a rolled eye ball, but I believe in the old fashioned fundamentals.

 

So bring on the dropped knickers and I’ll lead the gallery tour.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 




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Summer limes

A few slices of summer lime

 

Yesterday I sat in front of a fire with two sweaters on. Welcome to July in Quebec. It was bloody cold, especially for my spoilt disposition so attuned to the tropics.

 

Yet today it is beautiful here. Very still, calm and fresh. It feels Northern. The green is as fresh and pale as a Boreal forest should be. The sky crisp, the sun sharp. 

I had been sensitized to the northern climate, the trees, sounds and tastes and now I have a new found appreciation for what was once ordinary. That is the beauty of living away; I can retain the pleasure of experiencing the new.

 

 

We went to a market over the weekend in a small country town. I saw happy hippies and city weekenders shopping for their lunch, greeting each other with familiar smiles. The small kiosks were proudly selling their homemade foods. I sampled wine, cheese  and maple syrup but I could have also tried milk fed piglet or gourmet sausage. There was a pride in their food and the tasteful (and sometimes kitch) presentation. This is a land of food snobs.

 

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Since arriving in Montreal I have eaten meals that have tasted intense and fresh. I had not experienced a sensation quite like a fresh Quebec strawberry in some time. My taste buds have been deprived of these northern flavours, the sweet but tart berry, the pungent wet cheese, the nectarine dripping in juice. And visually the food looks perfect, the carrots are small and neat and orange, the eggplant firm in its purple fatness and the lettuce looks as crisp as its crunch. 

 

A Canadian summer means drinks at the dock, laughter with friends, the icy dip or the comfort of a roaring fireplace. For me it also means a return to my adopted home and time spent with my sisterhood of girlfriends. There is comfort in returning home to the familiar and seeing the gasp of recognition and joy spread over my daughters’ faces.

 

Things are often too long. Movies, books, classes, days, plays; but a Canadian summer is always too short. Staring at a Canadian lake bordered by gentle hills is so relaxing that after a while you feel akin to floating.

 

I must confess that no part of my anatomy has yet dared to experience the piercing and heart thumping cold of a lake swim.

 

Saving that for another day. Not quite that brave yet.

 

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Home is where…

 

Funny thing about having a blog is the assumption that someone will read what I am writing when maybe they won’t.  To write into an empty vacuum, or diary is strangely less satisfying. There needs to be a chance, however slim that these words will be read in order to give them a voice.

 

When we first decided to move here I was strongly against it. A huge magnet was pulling me away from this place and keeping me safe in Montreal. I was at home for the first time in my life. Having never lived anywhere for more than 4 years, Montreal was the first place that had broken the spell. I couldn’t imagine the pain it would cause to peel myself away.  Now I am no longer hungering to go back. I miss it terribly and sometimes have days that I am so homesick it hurts, but I don’t want to go back. Not yet. This wander lust has crept inside of me and it feels terribly familiar. I grew up like the kids that I teach, tectonic plates of their lives constantly shifting, not knowing where is home. I am defined by moving and yet I long for a home.  Right now I am day dreaming about my dream house. It is a place I will return to each summer to put my head down and call home. It is where I will grow roots and my children will play outside on their land. It is a little patch on the planet that is all mine. It cannot be in city, it must be in the country and it must be by water.  

 

I want to be in Quebec, by a lake, close to people I love. 

Problem is this is an emotional choice. It doesn’t take into account the weather, the freezing lake, the other warmer choices that would be fabulous destination choices for all our loved ones. It also doesn’t take into account crippling taxes, expensive lives, job opportunities and beurocracy. How does one choose where is home?

 

When I was growing up I had no idea where home was.  I always longed for something that I didn’t know but could sense rather than feel.

 

 

When I lived in Winnipeg I felt very strange for a long time. I couldn’t explain it and just sensed that something with my soul was off kilter. It wasn’t something related to Happiness. One day it came to me in a flash that I felt land locked. I was just too far from the sea. I never felt this in Montreal because living there you are constantly aware of the water surrounding you. We were always crossing bridges over the st. Lawrence that I knew led directly to Europe.  Now here I live on a small island and I don’t really sense the sea. I know it is there but I sensed the lack of ocean far more than I feel it.


So I need to be near the ocean, or at least a stone’s throw from it. 

 

Next I worried about how spoilt I was being regarding cold weather. Can I really not put . up with it anymore?  Am  I not just being ever so slightly precious?  Living in a warm climate enables you to live outside. It is the quantity of time out side  that measures the difference with no outside dining or liming spot. In a Montreal summer we would never eat indoors.  With the right house I could do that forever!  9 months a year is spent indoors in Montreal. I do not want to live that again. I find being in a warm outdoor climate much healthier. Much happier. Much freer. 

 

So it must be warm, or at least very mild. Tropical is good too.

I want to be close to culture. If doesn’t have to be Western Civilization but it must have something to keep me interested and alert. How ever gorgeous a desert beach might be, I would get bored. I would especially like to go to art galleries and a museum now and again but I don’t need to live next door. A short train drive or even flight would be fine. There must be a good bookstore. I do not want to have to rely on Amazon every time I need a book.  Understanding the language helps a lot in this regard but I don’t want to exclude any beautiful Italian and Spanish places. But French or English is best, if we are talking long term. Also, some body there must be creating art and it can’t just be some 60’s throwback Hippie who never left. Not that those people can’t paint. Some can.

 

So a decent amount of culture within close range.

 

My children must be safe and well educated. This is a must and none of the above makes it if this one doesn’t. I do not want to be on edge all the time, looking over my shoulder and feeling just a little nervous and on guard. I feel that here and perhaps knowing that is knowing I could never stay here a life time. Every so often you arrive in a place and feel at peace, like you know you could stay forever, if you were asked to. I think the safely issue can stop this happening. A decent hospital and a strong rule of law helps.  If the police simply do not answer the phone we are in trouble.

 

So obviously safe.

 

I must love the people. I want them to be warm and welcoming and secure. If I can compare two nations I can always make some generalizations about the people. I have noticed this from being around so many different nationalities in my life. This does not mean they are not lovely, it just means I don’t work with them. Warm blooded Latinos or Italian Americans have always been my cup of tea. But Canadians are the kindest people in the world.

 

Need to like the Kind, warm people.

 

Now it comes down the tricky one. Food. Can I really live in a  place where I hate the food? I know I can cook for myself and I do but if I know that most of the restaurants serve sauwerkraut and sausages or Russian fish and potatoes it is hard to feel inspired. I do not need an American chain and would actually prefer not to have any but the local food should taste good, This is a bonus.

 

So now it should be simple to choose where is Home, right? 

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Filed under I have two girls, Trinidad & Tobago