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November 25, 2022

Mont-Tremblant

7:30 a.m. at the coffee shop
I’m so glad I’ve taken up writing again after my bouts with COVID. The five vaccines seemed to have done the trick to get me over the worst of it. It was like the flu: a sore throat and serious fatigue. For a moment I was a bit worried because I couldn’t even concentrate enough to write.

Believe it or not, I didn’t turn on my iPad for 12 consecutive days. I was beginning to worry I would lose my ease with words. However, on the 13th day when the magic screen lit up, a miracle happened. I wrote “Surprise, I have COVID,” and in a matter of seconds, I became the happiest woman once again. You might know this personally, but writing is like a daily drug that doesn’t damage your health, a source of happiness to the one typing away on the keyboard. It is certainly true in my case.

I try and deplume the bird that’s still chirping in the bushes while I’m still alive. I try to dry each feather and empty the ink that’s left in the depths of my soul. I want to leave this place feeling lighter than a butterfly’s wing, having lived well and long, with no regrets.

Imagine scrubbing a pan in your kitchen sink. Scrub, polish, strip and remove any rust or remaining crust, then sanitize. I want to imagine my empty head becoming a transparent cloud with my life’s tears suspended in the atmosphere, ready to rain down and wash away any trace of me.

To leave unexpectedly, like a stream rushing down a mountain top. To leave with the eruption of a volcano, arms clutching Paradise’ balcony. To leave in the hollow of a bed, half-conscious. To depart in my sleep while dreaming of being 20. To leave while ignoring what is still on the road ahead. To leave bruised. And alone.

9:42 a.m.
The weather is still so nice that it pulls me towards the mountains and I decide to head out to Mont-Tremblant. A buy a third coffee and hit the road headed north on Highway 117. It’s even more pleasant because my car is sage green like the fir trees. Of course, the fall colours have faded, but the air is mild and the sun is with me. I love driving my car while listening to Radio-Canada, especially when the brilliant Pénélope McQuade is at the mic.

Sainte-Adèle, Val-David, Sainte-Agathe, and finally, Mont-Tremblant. My first stop is at a bookstore called CARPE DIEM, located in a cluster of nice shops. I buy a few new books on writing and two books on Japan: one about the city of Tokyo and the other about Mount Fuji’s surroundings. That’s right! The books are about this extraordinary country that my granddaughter adores. She hasn’t been yet, but we are planning a trip for her fifteenth birthday. Until then, she is learning Japanese and draws manga characters. She has the same talent as her cousin, my daughter's daughter, when it comes to drawing. One could say that creativity runs in the family. Right across from the bookstore, I walk into what I consider to be the best women’s clothing store in the Laurentians. I don’t buy anything, of course, because my closets are already full. I walk for a good half-hour, sitting down from time to time to catch my breath.

The Mont-Tremblant village is very welcoming. I almost want to walk into every food shop and bakery to eat a bit, but I refrain. It’s so nice outside and I want to soak in every last ray of sunshine. I grab another coffee at Tim Hortons for the drive back and I make a mandatory stop at CAVEAU (“the cellar”), a high-end gourmet grocery store in the countryside. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach and I end up buying a large orange and chocolate brioche bun, a few nice tomatoes, my favourite brand of capers, fresh Quebec garlic and what will be the last corn of the season. My eyes alight on some chicken pâté. Damn singlehood! How many times do I stop myself from buying something delicious because I’m alone for dinner on most nights? The fridge is so well-stocked too! The scrumptious selection includes lasagna, lamb moussaka, beef bourguignon and beef meatball stew. It’s enough to make you dizzy! I’m a cook who suffers from eating alone much too often. Even the take-out counter, with its dishes prepared for two, is a heavy reminder.

I stop at the optician’s in Sainte-Adèle on my way home to inquire about my next eye exam. It has become a kind of reflex whenever I feel lonely: I start thinking about new eyewear.
— “January 2023,” replies the good-looking older man. “Thursday, January 26, to be precise,” he adds flashing his pearly whites when he smiles.

Darn it! My mouth is still watering just thinking about the chicken pâté from the Caveau. How do mature, intelligent women get away with eating the same chicken pâté four nights in a row?

Cora
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