Quebec Day 1: The Night She Broke The Creperie

We drove to Quebec in the first days of March, the fresh aftermath of the intensity deep winter holds in.  Winter isn't over, but it's just let its breath go.  The ice is beginning to ebb, and icicles indicate daytime melting, just a half hour a day or so at first, then more and more on into sugaring season.  We wandered up a lonely, ice-wet two-lane road in low afternoon sun that seemed not to change for hours on end until finally, it sank, like a slow putt across the green.  We drove past tractors and hay bales just beginning to gasp for air beneath their mounds of shoulder-deep dry snow.  We drove past trucks parked on foot-thick ice, and little pop tents full of fishermen.  In northern Maine, we reached a point where suddenly everyone around us spoke French when we stopped for gasoline, and the views went on over lakes for a thousand years.  Ice on pine needles shimmied in hope every time the wind of our car blew past.  Each time, each day, a season passes more in this part of the world, there is a growing urgency that you may miss this day if you don't make the most of it now, each icicle, each last stand of tiger lilies, each last leaf blowing by.  And so you live feeling as much as though you're driving away from your present, not to return to the same, as you are driving into possibilities and adventures ahead.  I love the staggering, unforgiving specificity of seasons.  I love how after deep winter, I can tell week by week just what time of the year it is by how dry it is, whether there are icicles, and how low the sun is.  I could wake up any day in Maine and walk around outside and tell you within a 2-week window what day it was from the plants and trees and ground.  Truly, each day is special, ever moreso with small children.  Time seems endless and infinite, every moment larger than life in my memory...yet the minutes until Geoff returns home to chop wood and start the fire seem to never end some days.  I cannot imagine, nor would I want to, a life any different.  I know one is coming, I know we are moving, but it doesn't stop me from appreciating each minute, inspecting it closely, a snowflake in my hand.

We arrived at our hotel and walked - yes, 2-year-old Bittykins, up a humongous hill late at night in the snow - to a cozy little creperie.  This was a gorgeous city, but some of us were cranky...and one of us was so wild she knocked a mirror clean off the wall and nearly smashed it and herself.  But Geoff saved it (and her), the waitress took it (and our order), and Bittykins made me proud with her French r's when she ordered une crepe avec des fraises.  Toddlers speaking French make my night.  And so did the amazing food.  We slept well that evening, full bellies of savory and sweet, French on our lips amongst us, all tripping less these days over our own language and snow tracks, more forgiving of each other and ourselves, gaining a better grip on our identity as a family.

Emily Mitchell