far too much writing, far too many photos

Well. Montréal.

The drive up: easy, the highway stretching out ahead through green Vermont countryside, the blue August sky studded liberally with fair weather clouds. Likewise for the border crossing — a breeze. As it should be, me being no threat to anyone. The only difference this trip: U.S. customs agents stopped me before the crossing into Québec, the first time that’s ever happened. No big deal — a little Q&A as the agent eyeballed my passport before waving me through. Lines at the booths on the Canadian side were short, Q&A passed quickly, the agent waved me on.

I once heard someone call the stretch of Québec between Montréal and Vermont ugly. I don’t agree. Big, broad skies, farmland stretching away in all directions, dramatic clouds/light. I like it. And I like seeing the change in languages, the French signage, the voices on the Quebecois radio stations. On the other hand, it’s been many years since I’ve experienced the kind of mind-bogglingly intense aroma of ripe cow poop that I experienced today. Seemed to go on for miles and miles, didn’t matter if the windows were open or closed. Brought up childhood memories of visiting my mother’s relatives — farm folk, all of them — out in the middle of nowhere in upstate N.Y., not far from Oswego. Towns like Mexico, Pulaski, Parish, Fernwood. Visits that featured time spent on big farming spreads, the bouquet of well-aged manure a regular feature.

Found my way into Montreal, found the B&B in painless fashion. Parking was not the breeze it was a year ago, the mother/daughter team at the B&B responded by providing an off-street spot, making me very happy. The big hitch: my room? Right off the dining room, with workers toiling away right outside its one window, rehabbing the rear of the building. According to the proprietor, they show up around 7 a.m., get to work shortly after — news that had me flashing back to last autumn’s nightmare in Madrid. The big gift: she offered me the use of a studio apt. two blocks down the street for the night, I went and took a look. On the 23rd floor, with a breeze, view, light, bathroom, kitchen. Ran back, accepted the offer (I’d have had to be crazy not to), hauled my bags down the street through strong August sunshine, me streaming sweat. Made the 23 floor elevator ride (well, 22 floors, this building having no 13th floor), dragged ass into the flat where I ripped clothes off, took a shower, sat down on bed and wrote for a while, breeze and sunlight pouring through open windows, the city spread out below.

When I pulled my laptop from its carrying case, a spider popped out with it — walking unsteadily, all eight little legs shaky after a drastic, unplanned relocation from Vermont to Canada. I ushered it to the window, left it on the sill outside to begin the adjustment to life north of the border.

[continued in next entry]

España, te echo de menos.

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