Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rainy Day Feeling

Black snow on my street in the exburbs. Ain't it pretty!

Sometimes something 'calls you home.'

I drove into Montreal today, on yet another bleak overcast day, with light rain for a  change.

I was headed for McGill, the Library, downtown. To check out the archives of the Royal Victoria College for my new story about the Montreal Suffragettes.

I was on the highway before I realized the side mirrors of the car were filthy. I couldn't see a thing! I eventually got off the highway and tried to clean them with snow but that made them worse.

So I continued on, trying to stay in my lane and opening the window if I had to change lanes and got off at Montreal West, where I knew there was a grocery store.  I wanted to buy some Windex and paper towels and clean those damn side mirrors..

It was a Super Carnaval, the discount store, and the place had only 2 of its 20 or so cashes open, the two Express aisles where people were lined up 10 deep with full grocery baskets.

I soon realized what they were doing. They were trying to get people like me with a couple of items to use the automated teller. I hate automated tellers. (They can't return leaky milk bags for you.)

Their strategy worked. I got fed up realizing that 4 people had to empty their brimming baskets before I could pay for my two items so I used the mechanical cashier, scanning my two items, feeding the 20 dollar bill into the slot, picking up my change of 9 dollars and change and then I returned to my car in the lot and sprayed and wiped the two side mirrors. Then I needed the bathroom. So I decided to go North to Monkland Avenue and eat at a restaurant there. Why not?

I drove through NDG up Harvard Street (where my mother's family lived in the 1930's) a very pretty stately neighbourhood even on ugly days and made it to Monkland Village and immediately found parking.

The restaurants on the street  had all changed since I'd last been there a few years ago. Right in front me was a Restaurant called Prohibition, so I took a picture of the sign. My story Milk and Water is about Montreal in 1927 during the era of American Prohibition. Prohibition is a good name for a restaurant, I think. It's edgy and it's elegantly bilingual.

But I'm not sure if the place was open for business. The menu posted outside was for Brunch and Dinner.

I then passed this shop, the Patisserie de Nancy, a bakery that has been around since the flood.

And just then I remembered something: I was born above that place! Well, I was born in the Catherine Booth Maternity Hospital, but I came home to that place, two weeks later. (They kept Moms in the hospital for a long time.)

  I'm not sure if it was a bakery in 1954, I can't recall the family myth. But it might have been.

So you see, like a salmon looking to spawn and die, I 'came home'.

I've spawned, but I am not quite ready to die, although if this dismal dark weather continues I might soon feel to the contrary.

Then I went to the St. Viateur Bagel Cafe and had a veggie bagel, with asparagus and hearts of palm and a cafe au lait. The place was bustling with lunchtime patrons and I was seated between two dating-aged couples, one English, One French (well, the young man of this French couple was clearly English but he spoke nice effortless French).

I paid my 15 dollars  and gave a 3 dollar tip ( a lot for a mere bagel and a few slices of vegetable, but hey, I just wanted a little bit of atmosphere, human sunshine and the waitress was  efficient) and left, in the rain. Yes, it was still raining. In fact the sky was even darker this time, shrouded by an even thicker layer of grey cloud. (You know, even though I love the idea of living in London, I'd probably HATE IT.)

So then I decided I really didn't want to go downtown and park twenty floors down in some indoor parking garage, and drive home in rush hour in the rain, even with clean side mirrors so I drove home. It's Mamma Mia time, the sunniest movie of all time.

I'll go to McGill  tomorrow but take the train in.

Me in 1954.

I'm pretty sure this is Harvard in the 1930's... On the street in front and likely the back of the house. My cousin Peter and my Aunt Alice.