Sunset over Lac St. Jean.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
I sit late on Sunday afternoon at the table at the cottage. So far the weather has been spectacular, sunny in the low 70’s, with rain promised, but never delivered.
My in-laws’ cottage faces (or backs onto) Lac St. Jean, just outside Alma, Québec, Canada. Through the back windows one can gaze out at the rippling surface of the lake. It is a recipe for relaxation that makes the long haul up here more than worth it. Lydia’s father was born and raised in Alma with his siblings, cousins, and neighbors. Though they have made homes in other places, several family members maintain property here and visit every summer.
We have just finished watching, on the DVD player on my laptop, the second episode of “The House of Eliott.” A “pot boiler,” Lydia calls it, set in the twenties about a pair of sisters who try to make a way for themselves after their tyrant father dies, leaving them virtually penniless. It originally aired on BBC in 1991. We have ten more episodes to take in.
Mom and Dad prepared dinner. Roget, a friend of Dad, made a gift to us of several freshly caught trout. Yes, dinner was a fish fry. This evening’s menu had to be altered to accommodate the surprise main course, but with no complaint because, you know, free fish. The trout were extraordinary and the wine was delicious. Ah, the cottage.
We had arrived before four o’clock yesterday afternoon, at the end of a two-day, more than 16-hour drive from Pittsburgh. As we walked around to the back of the cottage, the side that faces the lake, we met Uncle Alex (actually, the cousin of Lydia’s father) and Aunt Helen who were just leaving. They live in Montréal now, about a six-hour drive from the lake, and also have a property nearby. We had brought some beer from our local Penn Brewery for Alex’s brother Boris, who was up at the lake, too. Since Uncle Alex and Aunt Helen would see him in a few minutes, we took the opportunity to transfer the booty between trunks so Uncle Boris could get his present as soon as possible.
After unloading the rest of the luggage from the car, we fell right into cottage mode by having our first of what will be many naps. After waking and eating late (another cottage standard,) we admired a spectacular sunset.
This morning, we got up early enough for a leisurely breakfast before heading out to our meeting at the Kingdom Hall in Alma. Since the meeting was held in French and neither Lydia nor I have more than a rudimentary grasp, it took a great deal of concentration to follow the talk. We had English material for the second part of the meeting, so we were better able to follow along.
The Alma congregation is very warm and full of the joie de vivre with which Québecers seem to be born. After the meeting, the local brothers and sisters came over to say their greetings and make us feel welcome, though we were meeting them for the first time. It was worth noting that many of them spoke English, since officially Québec is a French-speaking province. Even those who had only limited English, about as good as my French, made sure they welcomed us in our native language.
Many of the people we met had lived in this area for many years, even their entire lives. As a result, we picked up some stories about Lydia’s family, who had emigrated from Russia to the area about 80 years ago. For example, back in the day, some of the children would call Lydia’s grandparent’s property the “Russian Front.” When we told her parents the story, they got a good laugh.
On the way back to the cottage, we popped into Wal-mart to get a few prints made of some pictures we had taken and to pick up some swim trunks for yours truly. It seems it isn’t a vacation unless I forget to pack something and we have to go shopping.
I am already relaxing and looking forward to soaking in the recuperative energy of the cottage.
07/Aug/2006 – Cottage Vacation 13 comments