Sunday, August 9, 2009

Afternoon Ride Across the Bridge

We went for a little ride yesterday afternoon, my mate and I, to get out of the house and go "take some air", as they say here--that is, find some woods and walk around a bit, visit some trees, check out a farmers' market, just get out of the house and "go" someplace.

I notice the Googlebot has been poaching some of the photos I place on my blog and posting them in their public Google Images archives. Go ahead and take these if you want, Google--they're from the Mauricie region of Québec (the middle part, between Montréal and Québec City), in case anyone wants to travel here vicariously or come check it out in person.

This (below) is the Pont Laviolette, the bridge that crosses over the St. Lawrence river from Trois-Rivière to Bécancour.

First stop, Marché Godefroy, a farmers' cooperative that sells locally grown and hand-crafted products: organic flour, goat yogurt/cheese/soap, cranberry honey, "ice wine"; Belgian-chocolate-covered strawberries and blueberries; bins of fresh eggplant, cauliflower and broccoli; bags of unripened cheese curd, which is so popular here but which I can never find, anywhere, when I visit the States.

I found this woman literally dancing in the aisles. The spontaneous song of a vegetable seller.

This fellow agreed to pose for me, in front of the wine stand. I'm not sure what his costume represents and perhaps they took me for an out-of-town tourist. (I'm sure the locals don't come to this market toting a camera--I took mine today because I wanted to get nature shots for the planned trip after the market stop.)

By the way, if you're going to be in the area later his fall by any chance, you might like to check out their Beer and Sausage Festival, 12-13 September; Apple Festival, 24-27 September; or Cranberry Festival, 10-11 October.

Next stop, the little ecological park just a few minutes down the road from the market--a quiet, pleasant walk in the paths surrounded by unbelievably tall, thin, or thick, old majestic trees. At one point you'll come across a wooden barn in the woods, which looks abandoned but there's a huge, shiny, new looking vat alongside it, as well as stacks of freshly cut wood. Aha! It's a sugar house!! (cabane à sucre) Come spring, you'll see a lot of these sugar on snow parties here and in certain parts of New England. If you've never tasted maple syrup on snow, you're in for a treat. (Just make sure the snow is clean first.)

The path in the woods at the start of our walk. Look how thin some of these trees are, without a speck of foliage, climbing so far skyward you can barely find their tops. Amazingly sturdy for as fragile as they look.

Looking up, I couldn't find the top on this one. Perhaps it's in the clouds already.

This poor darling exhibits the ravages of nature, the scars of its life. It's its character, marking it off from the rest of its companions. I will know it again when next I visit here.

Unlike the tree below, which has been carved into by people wishing to proclaim their love for someone, or just plain leave their mark: "I was here."

What IS this human tendency we have to want to mark our passage somewhere, make sure it's noted that we were here, we passed through here, we existed. Some people do it by writing poems. Others spraypaint their logos on a building or carve their initials into a tree. This is not a judgment, just an observation. The tree in this photo seems to be saying, "See my scars." Or perhaps it doesn't mind, in which case it might be proclaiming: "Look who was here." Who knows. Anthropomorphizing nature won't really tell us, and the tree is silent.

And so that was our little day trip yesterday afternoon, over to Bécancour.

I love it that you can go downtown and stand at the port and watch the big ships arrive on the St. Lawrence, turn around and walk down the street and visit a museum and the beautiful, large public library, hop in your car and in ten minutes be deep in the countryside, traipsing among acres of blueberries or walking a path in the woods surrounded by silence.

Yes, we are a heavily industrial city here. Yes we have pollution from the adjacent paper mills spewing their toxic particulates across our gardens. Yes, we get an enormous amount of snow for five months of the year (which for me is kind of a plus, but I am in the minority, I think). But there are so many good things about this area. I admit I miss the rolling green mountains of Vermont, I miss swimming in Lake Champlain, my "other" home; I miss the woods of Pennsylvania, where I grew up. I miss here, too, whenever I'm away from it too long.

Anyway, should you ever decide to visit the Mauricie region of Québec , you won't be disappointed. There is something for everyone. For those who can't do so in person, I will from time to time post pictures of other places of interest--for example, the Moulin at Pointe-du-Lac, and a snowfall in March, and you can be a vicarious visitor, an armchair traveler as it were, which is not the same but oftentimes rewarding nevertheless.

Clouds today, and a bit chilly. Very strange weather for almost mid-August. The public swimming pools close here next week--way too early in my opinion--I guess because the lifeguards, who are mostly college students, will be returning to school soon. I would go swim in the St. Lawrence but the last time I tried that I got carried away by an incredibly strong current, so fast it took my breath away, and in a mere minute landed up so far past my starting point I had a stroke of panic. (I wondered why everyone else was sitting on the beach, not swimming, ha ha. Shoulda paid more attention.)

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