Into the Mountains
Much as I have loved being based in Montréal for the last three decades, I have moved away from it. I am now living just outside Ste-Adéle —about an hour north of the city, in the heart of Québec's Laurentian play-land— in a house with a private forest all around it, a mountain right behind it, and the Riviére du Nord, that winds and cascades its way through the whole breadth of the area, just fifty meters down the slope. The move was occasioned by money —it costs half as much to live here than in the City— but the attractions go way beyond economics
The Laurentians, and particularly the corridor between St.-Sauveur and Ste.-Agathe-des-Monts —with Ste.-Adéle right in the middle— is a delightful blend between the rustic, nay, the bucolic, and fully-functional urbanity. My "log-cabin" is equipped with wifi, cable-TV, brand-new plumbing and electricity and a spectacular kitchen, but right outside both the front and back doors there are miles and miles of untampered nature. Alright, not totally wild: in fact the whole complex of mountain/forest/river is made accessible to trekkers by a network of safe paths and well-defined trail.
Across that bridge, and running parallel to the river is one of the most charming walking/biking trails in the civilized world. Known as Le Petit Train du Nord, this used to be a railroad of a small train that used to transport holiday-makers of old from Montréal (via St.-Jérôme) to their favorite Laurentian village. The train used to call at all of them, all the way to Ste.-Agathe. Now that the car has obviated rail-travel, the tracks have been removed and the ground has been paved in benevolent gravel for easy and slip-proof treading.
It is truly, as touted by local tourism boards, un pays des merveilles ("a countryside of marvels"), with the River its crown jewel. On a hot day, I walk to it through a thick arbor and across a rickety bridge. It appears suddenly around a bend, having been dramatically foreshadowed by a thunderous roar of gushing water, quite misleading, considering its slender body and what seems like manageable rapids.
I travel up-river and come across perfect little bathing ponds, refreshing shower-like sprays, and omphalo-morphic rocks, like navels of river-gods, smooth and friendly, made for lazing under the sun while awaiting the appetite for more water-sports to return. Yet another example of nature trumping man when it comes to design: expensive water-parks cannot begin to deliver such pleasures as these.
Do I miss Montréal? Probably. But, right now I'm too busy enjoying myself to care. I look up at the sky instead, and salute the angels flying there.
Photographs by Algis Kemezys © 2012