(james benedict brown) on the road

Chèz Ulli, du Buillon…

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 17 December, 2005

Nearing the end of a very long day, I tentatively climb the snowy outdoor steps to Ulli’s apartment… she’s in, and not only that, I also get a bowl of warming soup and get to listen on her and Martin trying to perfect a bit of French pseudo-jazz on the violin and the guitar. I don’t know if it is pseudo-jazz, but I can’t think of any other words to describe it right now… As I left work last night, one of my colleagues said something to me in French that at the time I interpreted to mean ‘take care in the snow on your way home’. Inside, I chuckled and thought to myself… “but there’s no snow….”

Not then there wasn’t, but overnight, the snowstorm that has been tracking across eastern Canada and the north-eastern U.S hit Montréal. Or rather, it began to caress Montréal… it didn’t really ‘hit’ the city, it was far too quiet and calm for that strong a word. Because it was still dark when I woke up, I didn’t really notice the snow. But by the time I stepped out the front door, I knew that something was up. The pavements hadn’t been cleared, and only a few pedestrians had gone before me. Snow ploughs were still making their first visits to many of the city’s side streets, and as the sun began to make itself felt, the city was waking up to a deep covering of snow.

I was late for work, although not because of the snow. A breakdown on the métro kicked me off the train at Frontenac, along with hundreds of other commuters. I headed above ground to look for a shuttle, but it was no use… hundreds of people were gathered on the sidewalk as the snow fell thickly. I changed my travel plans and headed to work another away, via the métro stations of Jean-Talon and Saint-Michel, and a long slow bus ride along Jean-Talon. The snow was still falling heavily, and for all I knew the bus driver could have parked our vehicle inside a white box and got a few of his friends to rock it back and forth a bit… I really wouldn’t have been any the wiser.

I got a lift home with the aforementionned colleague in his nice warm Honda, and was returned almost to my door in the Plateau. We passed stalled trucks on highway 40, and once we were back on the Plateau we crawled down residential streets where every car had become a pile of snow. By 1800, at least forty centimetres of dry snow was on the pavements and streets. Channels had been cut for pedestrians and cars, but the snow is still a great democratising influence on the city. Road markings, kerbs and property boundaries are erased, and people park their cars wherever and however they can – more often than not at 30 or 40 degrees to the pavement, wherever a gap in the shallow banks of snow can be found.

Later on I walked west to a Christmas party in the office of a small architectural practice between St. Laurent and St. Urbain. Apparently the Christmas party at this studio was the place to be seen… if you know the one I’m talking about perhaps this makes sense. It seems, however, I have turned up five years too late.

Thank you for the soup, Ulli, it was really rather good, and secretly I wanted some more…… :-)


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  1. Miss Wendy Eileen said, on 17 December, 2005 at 00:15

    Sounds like you had a fun day…You know…I haven’t seen any snow here in Sandhurst yet…but its cold enough…Why wont it snow?!?!

  2. ulli said, on 17 December, 2005 at 01:42

    you’re welcome to come and have soup any time, james. thank you for the photo.

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