where the writers are
The Zen of Minnow Netting


Jack Layton Park (or Parc Jack-Layton) in Hudson, near where I live. It's a new park. That's the Lake of Two Mountains, really a river.


Friday Night I visited Montmartre, the areas off the beaten tourist path. And then I hopped over to Les Jardins Luxenberg.


Well, I visited Montmartre on YouTube. Someone (Msxmanic) has posted some terrific videos of Paris walks for our pleasure, nice long walks, in pretty Parisien places,  with only background noise - and some captions if you care to read them.


Of course, I hope to visit Montmarte, but it had better be soon. Those hills and stairs!


This is Labour Day weekend and the forecast is for Perfect Weather. 25 and sunny!


When I got up on Saturday, with those pretty little parks and elegant old homes still in my head, I wanted to do something - anything.


But we have these dogs and can't go anywhere without them, not for any length of time.


So I decided to go for a picnic, but where?


So I decided on Voyageur Provincial Park up the Trans Canada Highway.


I knew my husband, tired from a week's work, wouldn't object - and he didn't.


So we packed the dogs in the car and took off for Ontari, ari, ario, 20 minutes away - about. We had to buy our picnic at a local grocer - a Metro - as there was no grocer (or LCBO) between us and the park.


I overdid the picnic: I bought a salmon wrap and veggie (tofu) wrap for me, 5.00 each!, a turkey sub for him, and small amounts of St. Hubert red potato salad, macaroni salad and cole slaw for both of us; a small wheel of Dutch cheese; some dried bread thingies; some bruchetta; a cup of cut pineapple because the other prepared fruit was grossly overpriced and a quartet of banana and strawberry smoothies.


I don't know what the cost came to, but a lot I assume. Making your own picnic is certainly cheaper. Or not, if you want fancy sandwiches and you have to buy all the ingredients.


Anyway, we put the pre-prepared goodies in the cooler, (no booze, because you can't drink in the park except on private campsites.) Believe me, no booze. Sangria isn't booze, right?


And then we whipped over the border to the park, paid our 10 dollar entrance fee, parked and ate some of the  picnic. It was 11.30 by the time we finished.


So we took the dogs for a walk along path along the water, until the 12 year old Boston Terrier Bullwinkle was panting crazily from the exertion, and then returned to a spot we liked at the far end of the little beach where people can rent canoes and pedaleaus, and set up our little soccer chairs and brought out our cooler for a second round of eats and JUST SAT THERE.  NO TV, no latop, no iPOd, no nothing.


Well, I had my kindle and I read another chapter of the Art of Fielding, an excellent novel I've been reading for about 6 months.


"Kindles are weird," I said to my husband. "I'm 66 percent through this book, it is wonderful, the writing anyway, and I'm taking so long to finish it. If it were a real book, I'd have read it already. I would have turned it over in my hands and seen when I was a quarter, a half, three quarters through and kept slogging on to finish it. That's how I finished War and Peace and Moby Dick and the other great classics. Well, I'm not sure about War and Peace. (Russian novels aren't long; the language is short.)


My husband didn't seem to care. He's not a reader, being dyslexic, being a male. He doesn't like the idea of picnics, either, like I do. Not a bit. But he likes sitting quietly by water.


My husband was enjoying the scene in front of us: a group of people fussing over boats. Some females in a canoe had paddled to the shore to exchange watercraft with some males in a pedaleau.


Except the older females were, ahem, heavier than the older males and the pedaleau sunk too deep in the water. We didn't exactly what they were saying, as they were speaking Arabic, but we could see the problem. Eventually the family matriarch had to get out and forego the trip. You see, two kids could take her place.


A while later a father and three children, two boys and a girl, came by, pet our Labrador, Mr. Darcy, and found a rock from which to fish.  The little girl waded the shoreline, catching minnows in a net.


The cute little girl was  so mesmerized by her activity, so into the Zen of it, she often waded too far out on the little slimy stones, almost up to her waist. Not to worry, we were watching her, even if her Dad was otherwise occupied.


I was mesmerized myself as I observed the child. Here was a little girl of about 5 or 6, with a brown tan and hair the colour of milk chocolate, with sun-bleached streaks of gold, totally immersed in her low tech activity. With her net and her minnows. On a perfect day in late summer.  It was all so Virginia Woolf. So To the Lighthouse.


It was a pleasure seeing people without iPod and iPads -enjoy nature, if only in a very ordinary Provincial Park 20 minutes from my own back yard. To hear the shouts (in French and English and other tongues) of children playing in the water.


(Another large gathering of campers, under the trees,  had hung little red flags on the trees all around their picnic tables. They were singing songs. I passed them to visit the loo, and discovered it was  a Cambodian Bible Camp. The songs were all songs in Praise of the Lord.)


From the license plates in the parking lot, I saw that most visitors were from Quebec.


I would have taken a picture of the scene, but I didn't have my camera on me. It was in the car. I didn't care to go get it, because the landscape at the park is identical to the landscape along the water where I live. Therefore uninteresting to me.. Why wouldn't it be? Shorelines know no politics, no divisions.


It's just people who put them there.


Well, the water line was higher than in my area, because the Carillon dam is between the park and my house. A dam owned by Quebec but in Ontario, my husband says. (He likes dams, too.)


Oh, Ontario, so close and so far...Considering what's coming up this Tuesday..




The Hudson waterfront a couple of weeks ago. The water is low, but not at Voyageur Provincial Park.


Speaking of Paris. Edith Nicholson, of  School Marms and Suffragettes visited Paris in 1926 with a McGill Group.


I just dug the letter out.


She praised the way they cooked their food. "Taking such trouble with everything, even boiled foods."