UN International Mountain Day

Banff, CanadaI never knew there was a United Nations International Mountain Day until I started researching mountain eco-systems for the novel I’m working on.

Almost one billion people live in mountain areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food and clean energy. Yet mountains are under threat from climate change, land degradation, over exploitation and natural disasters, with potentially far-reaching and devastating consequences, both for mountain communities and the rest of the world. http://www.un.org/en/events/mountainday/

The theme of the 2018 International Mountain Day is #MountainsMatter….for water, disaster risk reduction, tourism, food, youth, Indigenous Peoples, and for biodiversity.

Did you know that mountains provide “between 60 and 80 percent of all freshwater resources for our planet”?

Banff, Canada

The FAO is asking all those who enjoy (holidays? skiing? snowboarding? mountaineering?) or depend on the mountains (that glass of water?) to join the call to specify why mountains matter at #MountainsMatter.

elk, Banff, Canada

These photos are all from Banff. I had the great fortune to participate in a writing residency at the Banff Arts Centre in 2014.

Banff, Canada

 

 

Quebec’s Door Museum

Last summer, inspired by Thursday Doors master Norm 2.0’s post, we decided to drive the King’s Road (route 138) to Quebec City en route to Charlevoix rather than the much much faster autoroutes 40 or 20.

I insisted we start right from the beginning of the King’s Road. This meant creeping along rue Sherbrooke through the city and past some rather desolate areas in the east end of Montreal where the oil refineries used to be. It took us an hour and a half to get off the island.

The Moulin de La Chevrotière was most definitely one of the loveliest sights on the King’s Road (which is full of many lovely sights). Continue reading

Where’s the Write Spot?

Every second week I gather up my pencils and notebooks after breakfast and set out to find somewhere to write for the day. Preferably somewhere I’ve never been before.

“No one is immune to the impressions that impinge on the senses from the outside.” Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Could be a park, a café or terrasse, an art gallery or museum, a mall, a greenhouse…

I find working somewhere different helps spark off fresh, unexpected ideas.

The new chairs and benches on the Montreal streets this summer are attractive options too! I love the replacement of sidewalk flowers along McGill College Avenue with parsley and other herbs.

summer chairs along ave McGill College, Montreal

Sometimes I look up places I’ve heard about in advance, but usually I just set out and see what I come across. Montreal is a great place for that!

When I saw Continue reading

Montreal’s Balade pour la Paix/Open Air Museum

What I find fun about sculptures in public places is looking at how they transform or interact with what’s around them, as well as enjoying the artworks themselves.

I’d loved to have been in on the discussions about where to place the thirty sculptures in Montreal’s Balade pour la Paix/Open Air Museum.

First of all, my absolute favourite match-up is ‘Walking Figures’ by Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland) in front of ManuVie. This is an empty plaza type area set back off the sidewalk, in front of walls of glass and the building’s conventional revolving glass doors.

The area normally feels rather blank and empty. Not any more! For me these massive figures are Continue reading

Montreal Mural Festival

When summer rolls around in Montreal, you can be sure of a couple of things: road works which send you off on complicated detours and festivals!

One of my absolute favourite festivals is the Mural Festival.

Two weeks to watch the artists at work and the murals emerge, and to wander up and down St Laurent without having to worry about traffic. And maybe visit the Breton crêperie or the Portuguese bakery or any number of coffee places or clothes boutiques, or the Enchanted Forest, a park taken over by yoga, dance, musicians and Lululemon for the duration of the Festival. I’d never realized before how very Continue reading

Montreal Grand Prix, French Lessons and Minis

I’m not a fan of the Grand Prix – the noise (pounding music, screaming tires, revving engines), the wasted resources (yes, I know, those tourist dollars coming into Montreal – but think of the taxpayers’ subsidies going out), the ‘vroom virus’ that infects even normally sedate drivers, making street crossing an extreme sport.

On the other hand, some of the doors are impressive.

Montreal Grand Prix 2017

What’s with the doors that open Continue reading

Montreal’s 18th Century Market

Montreal's 18th Century MarketI’d lived in Montreal for years before I discovered the annual 18th Century Market. Now I never miss it.

The market takes place in Montreal’s first market square, Place Royale, which is between the St Lawrence River and the Old Customs House (L’Ancienne Douane), built 1836-36.

Montreal's 18th Century Market

As the city is on the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) people, their Continue reading

150 Words For 150 Years

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday (for Europeans of course, not for those who were already here) Atwater Writers Exhibition ran a writing contest: 150 Words For 150 Years.

Writers submitted from all over Canada, the U.S., and several other countries too, such as India and Serbia.

I wrote a non-fiction piece about two particular incidents, 86 years apart, involving my grandmother’s copper kettle.

The kettle was given to her in 1912, a wedding present, just days before she and my grandfather (six days married) set sail from England for Canada. My mother gave the kettle to me when Continue reading