Friday, September 28, 2007

La Belle Provence

We crossed the provincial border at Zontique, Quebec. Seeking a way around Montreal during late afternoon rush hour, we found ourselves dipping down into the Eastern Townships around the north end of Lake Champlain. The roads were as terrible as the experience was wonderful. Little towns on #202 like Bedford, Durham and Knowlton were like polished gems. Coming round a bend by ‘Lac Brome’, we stumbled onto the most marvellous view beside us, of a passion pink and ruby sunset over the lake. A roadside turnout presented itself, and with the assurance of a passing Anglophone dog walker, we settled in for a ‘free night’ in this small epiphany of paradise.

We slept happily, disturbed only by the hungry munching of a moose beside the camper and his hooves clapping on the road as he strolled away, presumably satisfied .

We were ‘agog’ in Magog, spending the day touring the town on our bicycles. The waterfront here is beautifully developed and animated by the colourful spectacle of sail boarders and kite surfers.

Once upon a time we received a letter from the L’Eglise du Canada , asking us to consider a ‘call’ to Magog. How different life might have been for the Moffat family had we seriously considered that potential French adventure. As it is, we are amazed how that ‘ol high school French surfaced for us in a pinch. We found ourselves asking questions, engaging in animated mini-conversations and reading the historic plaques as if we understood them like true Quebecois!
“Est-ce q' il y a un autre Canadian Tire ici en Riviere Du Loup, avec un “gas bar”?
Wouldn’t a congregational exchange between Ontario and Quebec be a worthy venture?

Count us in.

Saturday up at Mt. Orford Provincial Park provided more hiking and bicycling opportunities. While there, we dared ourselves to swim amidst the floating maple leaves at Lac Stukely on the first day of autumn. Cold? How about bracingly exhilarating!

It was an experience well worth an incarnation.

Sunday morning at 10 AM while joining Parkminster in Spirit, a trail led us into a natural cathedral. We were encircled by a congregation of pines and ripening maples; the baptismal font of ‘Fer-de-Lance’ lay before us; the awesome presence of Mt.Orford lended an exalted presence, the radiant sunlight in this windless sanctuary warmed us, while we shared muffins and apples with a chipmunk at the Look Out ‘communion rail’. Circle this place on your maps.
Many of those who have found it, return year after year.

The next two days we followed the historic trail of the St.Lawerence River eastward - with mountains in the distance across the water and a slew of church spires marking the nestling presence of towns.
Gardeners and Artisans have made this trail a feast of treasures to admire.

Here is Peter outside a blacksmith shop, decorated with car memorabilia.

Here is Elizabeth with the blacksmith, "Clermont Guay".

We thank you, Quebec, for sights and sounds and flavours to be long savoured .. and for the wonderful variety of people we encountered of all ages. Amazing how two such distinct cultures continue to share a Canadian identity. “God keep our land, glorious and free …”