What can be said about the house at 594 Rang Sainte-Catherine? It was a fairly new building, but constructed using plans of an early Quebec settler’s house. Of course it had every modern facility. It was set on seventeen acres of woods and lawns, with tracks through the forest. The trees were mainly maples, firs, and pine. Outside the sitting room window was a large lake with trout. Near the lake was a maple syrup building where maple syrup could be processed once extracted from the trees.
We dug a large vegetable garden. What a productive garden it was! With the freezer full there was no need to buy vegetables over winter.
From the fallen pines Eric chopped up firewood for winter.
We bought a ride-on mower and mowed the substantial lawns and the tracks through the woods.
The wild life was fantastic. Herds of deer would pass through. An elk came to sniff the firewood. Radio warnings would be given of bears on the loose. The trout in the lake would crowd to the edge for food. How comfy it was to snuggle up in bed at night and hear packs of wolves out on a mission. It’s not the howling of wolves that causes the spine to tingle; it’s the wolves chattering. What are they talking about? Where are they going? What things are planned?
Doggie was getting old and more comfortable in his ways. We though he could do with a companion. We went to the animal rescue place and fell in love with the only dog that wasn’t barking at us, but was standing on his hind legs as if pleading to be taken. He had been the most abused dog that Animal Rescue had seen in years. Of course we took him. He was a big dog, and we called him Rusty. Doggie understood English; Rusty understood French. The two got on well. They both had free-range of the large property. Later, it was the deer hunting season and one evening Rusty didn’t return. We never saw him again. We think he may have been shot by hunters.
On weekends we would often go for a drive around the countryside. On this particular day we went to Thetford Mines. And there it was! A little puppy in the pet shop window!
We brought her home and called her Sedona. Doggie’s days were filled with teaching Sedona the tricks of being a dog. He would take her out in the snow way beyond the house, at a huge distance, and send her home on her own. It was fascinating to watch. The next day he would take her to the other side and do the same. He taught her to bark at squirrels up trees, and toss a ball, and even to eat the wild raspberries that grew in the woods. He taught her to lie in the snow with only the eyes showing.
The summers weren’t overly long, but were delightful. Winter would come with a vengeance. Usually there were at least three weeks at minus 40 Celsius. If you’re going to have a winter you might as well have one! Getting up at 4.30 am to snow-blow the driveway to get to work was a common activity. Once, a big storm came and the snow was piled higher that the garage door. It was far too much snow for our snow blower. Eric stopped the snow plough on the road as it passed. Do you reckon you could do our driveway? If the driver hadn’t been kind we’d still be there with shovels.
All things must end. I developed chronic heart disease. We would have to go to New Zealand for treatment. Eric resigned from work. We found homes each for Doggie and Sedona. I can still see the little boy in Saint-Georges with Doggie on the lead taking “the big teddy bear” to show grandpa.
We sold our mower and snow-blower. We sold the furniture. We sold the good car, and kept the old car to take us to the train station in Quebec. The train would take us to Montreal where we’d catch a plane to Los Angeles. As it turned out we decided, once we were on our road, to drive to Montreal ourselves where we sold the car for $100!
The early morning was frozen. Our driveway was a sheet of ice. We slid down the drive in the car to the road like a skier. The last phone call at this delightful place had come in the middle of the night. It was a brother in New Zealand. It had been sudden. My mother had died.