- We ate bread. Oh so much bread. Crunchy, chewy, delightfully rich-tasting fresh-from-the-oven bread. We ate bread for at least two meals a day. Not a slice of bread, I'm talking a loaf of bread. My favorite was a giant boule with walnuts and brie baked inside, swirling around the giant bubbles of sourdough-like innards. Mmmmm! We estimate that we spent $70 on bread and other bready-type goodies. (Did I mention the pain au chocolat with tart/sweet red currants? Consider them mentioned.)
- My favorite place to visit in the area is an island in the St. Lawrence river called Île d'Orléans. It is an artist colony, a ciderie, a fromagerie, and a historical landmark of architecture and ecology all in one. Every vista along its looping main street has one marvel after another: a taste, a smell, a craft, a church, a color, a scene. a story. I love it here & it has inspired me with my first ever historical fantasy idea. (Followed shortly afterward with my first EVER straight-YA idea. Who knew I could think beyond the paranormal and pointy-eared? Maggie was in high-gear!)
- My daughter adores bugs and I adore Cirque du Soleil, so who could resist this?
Ovo is the latest show launching their 25th anniversary celebration and we were there opening weekend!! I got to share my love of this troupe and their art and beauty with her and she got to share with me her smiles, endless delight and knowledge about bugs with me. These red ants were her favorite:
- She also got to spend a special time with "just Daddy" as he took her to see another exhibit. She also loves anything that has to do with the human body and Hubby thought he'd found the perfect thing!
I thought he was crazy. I figured it would freak her out – frankly, it freaked ME out – because while I know she reads encyclopedias to bed, it's a lot different having something on the page versus seeing it in once-living 3D. Nope, they were going. So they went in and I took the boy out for a stroller ride to see galleries, half-expecting to find her hysterical upon my return. Boy was I wrong! She was wearing a huge grin, skipping excitedly, ready to tell me all about the gall bladder, real ball joints and the baby with its digestive tract outside its body. She was wearing a BODIES T-shirt and clutching a giant new human body encyclopedia that I think was a medical textbook.
Did I mention she's five? She's five.
- My son got to marvel at art with me. (Okay, he was more impressed with his lollipop.) The old town of Québec is an artsy city and since I come from an artsy city (Chicago), I feel most at home here. The addition of French influence just makes it more caloric. However, I spied not only the artisan who made the stained-glass lampshade Hubby & I bought on our trip back from our wedding 10 years ago, (*squee*) but a new artist, Pierre Marcoux, whose work inspires me to sell more books so I can own one of his paintings!
- Fireworks. Did you know that there is an International fireworks competition? Les Grands feux Loto-Québec is held over the largest waterfall I've ever seen (bigger than Niagra) and you need tickets to attend. We got some to watch South Africa's display. My husband was thrilled although I couldn't see the big whoop in fireworks, I mean we'd just had the 4th of July and how different could expert pyrotechnics be? Wrong again! These were *incredible* fireworks, in shapes and colors and configurations I'd never seen before, lighting up the sky in defiance of the dark. My favorites were the red-orange colors, the wide-petaled flower explosions and something that looked like an animated shooting star trailing brilliant antique-gold-colored tails behind it in slow-motion cascades like something out of Harry Potter. Seriously, we'll be sure to check this out again!
- Every time we crossed Rue St. Jean, I mentioned how the brass, sculptured weather vanes looked "steampunky" to me. It never turns off, does it?
- We're all suckers for waterfalls and chocolate and got to experience plenty of both from the Canyon Ste-Anne to Baie St. Paul, we traveled the length of Québec to Montréal, basically eating and hiking our way up Mt. Killington and down into the vineyard valley. Hubby taught his girl how to make S'mores (and share them with the nice Canadian family who helped him make a fire of damp wood) and I showed my little boy where blueberries come from, growing wild on the path. We swam and ate and explored and drove and drove and drove. I'm glad I have traveling, adventurous family that also puts up with my overactive mind. I must have been scribbling and recording for over half of the time, whenever I could snatch a piece of paper or my hand-held recorder. Otherwise, we were (somewhat painfully) offline.
- And then...home.
And home is where you can't wait to be at the end of the trip, thankful to sleep in your own bed with the kids happy with familiar games and toys, treasuring the last sunset rays of freshly-hewn memories that can last a lifetime (and theirs).
* This is true, by the way. We met while he was in undergrad and I was in grad in two different states. Then there was work – me 6:30-4:30, him noon-10pm – and then kids, enforcing crazy hours for the next 18+ years... Ten consecutive days? Bliss! We got to act like little kids with our kids. We're not growing old together as much as growing UP together!