Revisiting Quebec in the fall.

In October 2015 I spent almost a month in Quebec, CA. I blogged about that trip here, but I’m now sharing my photos on my travel blog, ‘Where The Wind Has Taken Me‘.

If you missed it then, this is a great opportunity to follow my trip on that blog!
Or, you’re welcome to skip back to posts from September and October of 2015, and read it all here. I’m working to ensure that it’s not the same post, rehashed and served up again for breakfast, so hopefully it’s just as enjoyable the second time round!

 

I’d seen maple trees and other autumn colours in Australia – dotted here and there, or lining a street. I had seen photos of parks and forests full of colour. I knew they were beautiful. I saw the leaves starting to change colour in Nova Scotia just a week before I arrived in Quebec. But nothing […]

via Quebec’s Eastern Townships in Autumn. Part 1. — WHERE THE WIND HAS TAKEN ME

The Hell-Fired Pizza.

I want to establish from the outset that I am not a wimp when it comes to spicy food. Indian, Asian, Mexican… I love it all.

For lunch today, my husband ordered a meat lover’s pizza with chilli. It was delicious – until I bit into the hottest fuelled-by-all-the-power-of-hell piece of chilli I have ever experienced.

What I experienced at that point in time was way beyond taste, pleasure, or delicacy. It was excruciating.

My mouth was on fire.
I lost sensation in my lips, then almost passed out.
My eyes were streaming.
I was using bad words, but slurring my words.
My dear man thought I was just being funny. I wasn’t. This was one of the rare moments in my life where being a comic genius was not something I had in mind.

That supercharged little sucker burned my mouth, throat, oesophagus and stomach for at least an hour, only moderately assuaged by milk. I have had a persistent stomach ache for 9 hours, and my mouth and throats are still sore.

And now, the assault continues as the nugget of hellfire works its way through my system.
N e v e r  in my life have I experienced anything like this.

Suffice to say that while the volcano is not erupting hot lava,  it is definitely shooting out dangerous levels of sulphur and brimstone.  It’s probably worthy of an official health and safety warning.

At least there is one thing of which I can be certain: this, too, shall pass.
And that, my friends, is going to hurt.

pizza

Edit: On reading this, a friend sent me an article about two guys in New Zealand making someone eat a Fijian Bongo Chilli, which had exactly these after effects. He was suing them for assault.
I don’t blame him. 

Philipsburg.

The village of Philipsburg was established in 1784 by Empire Loyalists who moved to Canada from New York after the USA won her independence from the British. 

Two earlier attempts by the French to settle the area had been unsuccessful. The region was named St Armand by the French in 1748.

The Iroquois had villages here in the northernmost part of their territory, and they lived a settled and peaceful way of life. Across the lake were the Algonquians and some Abenakis, living in the southernmost reaches of their lands. 

  
The village was named after Philip Ruiter, a pioneer in the area.

The Canadian authorities were not keen to see settlement here because they felt it was too close to the American border. It’s easy to see why the settlers chose this place, though. 

  
Located on the shore of Lake Champlain among woods on rolling hills and rich earth for farming, Philipsburg offered plenty of opportunities for farming, hunting, fishing, and enjoying a pretty view of the lake from one’s front porch. 

  

Today, Philipsburg is still a pretty lakeshore village with those same opportunities, within easy reach of the Eastern Townships and the cities of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Montreal, as well as convenient access to the US state of Vermont via the border crossing at the Highgate Centre. 

I’ve had the privilege of calling Philipsburg home for only a short time, but I will always love this place. My mornings spent by the lake have been precious times of reflection and serenity, and part of my heart will always remain here. 

Fall.

Today the leaves are positively dive-bombing off the trees. 

  
The sun is shining again and the sky is azure blue, but yesterday’s snow has caused the autumn leaves to give up hope and cast themselves to the ground. 

  
Roads, garden beds and grass are carpeted with those who have already fallen, while other more hopeful souls still cling desperately to their tree. 

  
It’s easy now to understand why North Americans call this season Fall as well as Autumn. 

Even on a still, sunny morning, leaves dive and drift, collecting in rather tragic piles beneath the increasingly bare trees that only a week ago were vibrant with colour. 

In Australia, I never really had the perception of so many leaves falling and fluttering, or languishing in the breeze. Most of our trees stay green, and the occasional ornamental maple or elm shedding its leaves in a garden or the main street of a country town doesn’t really have the same impact, as beautiful as it may be. 

This sad abandonment of Autumn splendour has a beauty all its own. I’m very privileged to be able to sit here in the sunshine and witness it. 

Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

Occasionally, I like to throw caution to the wind and do something dangerous. Intrepid and adventurous, that’s me. Completely aware of the perils ahead, I put my sassy pants on and set out for an adventure that has long been on the bucket list for this holiday. 

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company makes hand-crafted, fully customisable teddy bears that are unbearably adorable.

   
 
The bears all carry the trademark labels and eyes which distinguish them from other bears. The eyes have “Born in Vermont” imprinted in the iris. Too cute. Being from Vermont, the Bears all have a chubby tummy that is known at the company as “the belly that Ben & Jerry’s built”. 

   
   
There are hundreds of different outfits that can be purchased for the 15″ bears, reflecting seasons, occupations, sports and significant life events. Most of the bears have brown eyes, but can be customised with blue, green or hazel eyes. Paws and outfits can be customised with embroidery. 

   
   
The factory tour is fun and entertaining for all ages. I was really pleased to see the tour being led by a delightful guy who has a disability but is obviously living joyfully despite it. 

The bears are very reasonably priced in comparison to other top-quality, hand-crafted collectible bears, such as the Charlie Bears which I also collect. 

All in all, I had a wonderful day here. I made the experience complete by adopting a 15″ Maple Bear with blue eyes. It’s fair to say that he had a pretty good day, too. 

Oh deer! 

Sitting in my friends’ living room in Quebec this evening, I glanced up to see two young deer in the yard, calmly eating the grass and flowers. 

    
I watched for quite some time as they wandered around, quite at peace with their surroundings. They were there  for about half an hour before darkness fell and we could no longer see them. 
What a beautiful end to a lovely day! 

A different kind of baptism.

This evening, Sean and I stood on a flat rock, polished smooth by the ocean, and stepped into the cold water together. 

   
 
We only got wet up to our ankles, but we did it! Neither of us had seen the Atlantic Ocean before last Friday. Now, we’ve had a little ritual of wetting our feet in it together. 

We weren’t born siblings, but we did this together to further cement our mutual adoption.  It’s safe to say that we have really bonded in the past five days. 

  
We’ve experienced many firsts together on our short vacation in the eastern provinces of Canada. It was the first time for both of us to visit Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Sean had his first lobster. I fulfilled childhood dreams with Sean by my side. We have laughed and talked and taken photos and blogged and got rained on and visited many new places together. And the meals we’ve shared… Oh my. 

This trip out east has been sensational in so many ways. 

It’s going to be really hard to leave him tomorrow and go back to instant messaging. But we will. It’s so much better than nothing!

Lower Bedeque School, Prince Edward Island. 

While sharing lunch with my friend in Summerside, PEI, sour server mentioned that we were not far from one of the schools where Lucy Maud Montgomery had taught in 1896-1897. 

We decided to go by and see the school house, which now serves as a museum. It wasn’t open, but we did peek in the windows as well as taking photographs of the building. 

   
  

  

How delightful to see another part of Montgomery’s own history on PEI. 

The story of her time here is quite poignant. While teaching at this school, Montgomery boarded with the Leard family. 

Lucy fell in love with the eldest son of the family, Herman, but he ended the relationship because he was less educated than her and believed she could do better. 

Montgomery’s grandfather died suddenly and she left Bedeque before the school year was finished to return to Cavendish and take care of her grandmother. 

When Herman Leard died of influenza in 1899, Montgomery was distraught, even though their relationship had long been over. 

Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Lucy Maud Montgomery is famous as the author of “Anne of Green Gables” and many other books. She was also a poet – something I did not know until today! 

In addition to visiting Green Gables, I also visited he site of the home in which Montgomery lived with her grandparents at Cavendish and her birthplace at New London, on Prince Edward Island.

Both of these experiences were lovely. The home of Montgomery’s grandparents is no longer standing, but the site is commemorated by a rustic bookstore which specialises in book by, and about, Montgomery.   

  

  

 

Walking through the house in which Montgomery was born was both fascinating and quite moving.

   

To see letters handwritten by her, clothes and shoes that she wore, and to walk on the very same floorboards and stairs that she walked on as a child had a very profound effect on me.  I have always felt connected to her characters, but to feel a sense of connection to the author is another thing again.  

  

  

 

The rooms do not have the original furnishings owned by Montgomery’s family, as the house was sold when her mother died from tuberculosis at the age of 23, when Lucy Maud was only 21 months old. 

It was during her mother’s illness that Lucy went to live with her maternal grandparents at Cavendish. Here, she frequently visited relatives who lived in the house nearby that inspired her to write the story of Green Gables and the red-haired orphan girl, Anne Shirley, who went to live there. 

The house is furnished with authentic items from the time period, according to the way in which such a house would typically have been furnished. Close attention has been paid to every detail.  

  


  
 

I’m so glad we found these places and decided to visit. As well as fulfilling a life-long hope and dream of mine, I discovered some new places and learned new things about this wonderful writer whom I have admired for so long. I really have had an absolutely marvellous day.  

Anne of Green Gables. 

One of my dreams since childhood has been to visit Green Gables and see the places I had grown to love ever since reading my mother’s old copies of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books. 

Those books were formative for me. I loved Anne for her feistiness, her wordiness, and her ability to get herself into trouble. Her imagination was inspirational to me. I learned valuable moral lessons. Most of all, I got lost in Anne’s world as the story unfolded from one book to the next. 

Today, I fulfilled that dream. 

I arrived at Green Gables in Cavendish on Prince Edward Island and stepped into the world created by Montgomery in her books about Anne Shirley, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, Anne’s “bosom friend” Diana Barry and a host of other delightful characters. 

I found some time alone to shed some tears. It was quite an emotional experience for me. I had dreamed of being here since I was a girl of 7. 

When I joined my friends, I thought I was over the emotional response, but I blinked back tears several more times during my visit. They were all happy tears, though. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. The house has been painstakingly restored and maintained.  

  

  

Other places featured in Anne’s world, such as Lovers’ Lane and The Haunted Wood, are also carefully maintained and can be freely visited by visitors to Green Gables. 

   

 
I so loved visiting Anne’s Green Gables today. It is a day I will never forget.