I have to start this one by saying that I’m incredibly biased. I grew up in Middle Georgia where you’re lucky if it snows at all in a given year. When snow was predicted, it always involved a caveat that several factors had to line up just right; the cold front had to arrive before all the moisture was wrung out of the air, basically. Usually we have warm wet days followed by cold and clear days, rinse and repeat. Getting enough cold and wet to coincide for snow is rare. In fact, we’re often as likely to get an ice storm from such a system as snow. None-the-less, long after school, when snow was predicted, I still found myself at the window waiting to see if Mother Nature would come through or not.
So, here I am where snow is not nearly so mysterious. When I flew in a few days ago, I saw fields of snow stretching as far as the eye could see. Snow here is as universal as a hot summer in Georgia. But I so hope that the people who live here aren’t so jaded by it that they can’t see the beauty in a snow fall. To me, it’s simply magical when you look out the window at night and see snow swirling through the street lights.
Such was the case last night just as I got ready to go to bed. I looked out the window and it was really coming down, not blizzard proportions but still exciting to me! I resolved to wake up and see the fresh snow in the morning before it had been trod down by a thousand feet and turned to slush by whatever concoction of salt and grit they are using to keep things passable. Well, I don’t know what time that would have been but at 7:30am when I looked out, the streets and sidewalks here in Haut-Ville were well cleared… sigh… I went out anyway with the great hope that the Basse-Ville – or lower town – might not be cleared yet. I figured those narrow little streets would take longer since huge plows couldn’t go through. Besides, it was those quaint streets I most wanted to see.
And my luck was with me this morning. Sure enough, barely a soul was in Basse-Ville, just a few other intrepid souls and a small batallion doing battle with the fresh snow. So, I got to wander with my camera and it was an easy game of taking photos with or without people but without so many people that it’s impossible to compose before someone unplanned hits the corner of the camera frame. It was just what the doctor ordered. Even though few shops were even open yet, all those festive lights were still on.
The only downside to the experience was getting another pair of shoes soaking wet. This time it was my fault, not the shoes failure. I misjudged a spot and stepped to just past my ankles in cold slush. The moment I did it, I felt my socks wicking water like mad into my shoes… sigh… It was a long trudge up the stairs from the lower town. There’s a funicular that up until today I had avoided. Paying a machine to carry me up and down instead of walking was more than my stereotypical Scottish heart could take. This morning, I would have loved to ridden it up instead of walking all those stairs with my feet squishing… And, of course it was closed!
I made my way back to the hostel still happy with my morning despite the soggies. In fact, I even stopped and had lunch. I mean, why not at this point? But when I got back here, it was with the intention to spend a long afternoon catching up. I went through the easy emails. Some just require more thought and reading than my brain can manage on this small netbook screen. I backed up all my photos and then just as I had finished all that prepared to come downstairs and sit… I was going to get back out after dark but just for a bit to see the Christmas lights (some are being taken down, some are still up), but that was all I planned. Then I looked out and saw something I hadn’t seen since I got here, a blue sky… blue… it was dusk blue, but the important part was the clouds had parted a bit… I had to go back out, camera in tow.
Back into the lower town I went. I took some photos along the way, like the one above of a snowy field in front of some warmly glowing shops (no blue sky in that one, but in the right directions, ones that counted, it was there). Luck was with me this afternoon. The funicular was running, and I used it both ways. That was $4 round trip and worth every penny of it to my feet and my photos.
So, you’ll get more views of the lower town once I’m home to edit them, and I’ll be back down in Basse-Ville at least once more. There’s a shop there that has some cute prints I’m interested in. I almost went in this evening but then decided to use the sky for all it was worth and come back… and when I came back they were closed. They must have short winter hours as they were closed this morning, too. That was a narrow window of opportunity I missed, As charming as it is down there, it’s probably a safe bet I’ll journey down several more times before I leave Quebec.
Not sure about morning. Tomorrow is a high of 1 degree and a low of -17 degrees and those are both Fahrenheit values. I don’t know if I have those in me…Tomorrow may be museum day. In most cities that translates to rain for me, but here it may mean, too cold to stand outside!
Oh, and today’s fun term, all over the city you’ll see signs saying “chutes de glace.” Very few are nice enough to translate, but glace is ice and chutes I had to look up to be sure, but in this context, it’s falling. The signs are warning you that ice and snow can come plummeting to the street at any time. My first couple of days, the only snow I saw coming off roofs was gently wafted in the breeze and oh so pretty and poetical. Today was unusual, despite the continuing snow, it was just a touch above freezing, so everywhere I went you could hear water dripping (and this was when that line from The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe about the Queen’s hold on Narnia weakening came to mind), It was pretty humorous until I started seeing enough chutes de glace to keep my attention on the roof-lines I was near. And by the way, chutes is very close to the sound it makes just before a pile of ice and snow comes loose…. That’s about how much warning you’ll get to move. In London, you mind the gap, in Quebec, please mind the chutes de glace…