Veeka and I are on a journey – one to the north and the first time I’ve taken her out of the country. Why now and why here? Well…it’s so hard to get three weeks away when one is working at a regular job and something told me to take this time now. And so on Friday, she and I set off for Canada. I can only drive about 350 miles per day – after 7 hours at the wheel I turn into a pumpkin. So the first day, we stopped by a friend’s place on Cayuga Lake, one of the finger lakes in New York. We pulled up early in the evening (after getting caught in rush hours in Scranton and Harrisburg) to find Anto and Roberta Parseghian and their extended family having a picnic. I’d met Anto years ago through his prophetic art that took on topics ranging from abortion to daycare. It was wildly interesting stuff but no one was buying it, so he’s since gone into furniture-making. Samples of his gorgeous workmanship are here. So I got a tour of his studio and saw the incredible things he does with birch and other northern woods. Later that evening next to a campfire, we had such fun discussing theology; Anto is very Reformed and I am not so we had some great talks. The lights on the lake glittered in the distance. It was a beautiful night.
The next day we drove another 7 hours into Canada, ending up in Montreal by late afternoon and greeted by some Canadian friends. They live in the Laval area north of town. All the signs here are in French with no translations. Which is fine for someone like me who has lived in France but it does give off the impression that the locals wish English-speakers would stay away. Today we attended Mass at St. Patrick’s downtown, then drove atop Mont Royal (in French Mont Real which the city is named after) where everyone posed for photos. The temps are in the 90s at this point. We repaired to Laurier Street to grab a bite at Juliette & Chocolate, then headed to another large church: St. Joseph’s Oratory which is the resting place of Andre, a newly minted Catholic saint. I’m not into relics, so the display of the deceased’s actual heart turned my stomach. Better was the excellent view over the city from one of the balconies. Veeka really got into saying a prayer, then lighting all the votive candles.
We tried dropping by Notre Dame’s downtown but there was a service going on, so we ended up at the Vieux Port, which is all old Montreal and new shops that have sprung up on the city docks. By this time we were quite droopy and hot while Veeka was still dashing about, spritely as ever. So we picked up some chicken at St. Hubert’s (the secret sauce is some kind of Quebecois specialty), then went home and collapsed. I dove into the family pool.