Charles and I are back up in Ville-Marie, Témiscamingue, for Christmas. And while it would be out of character for me to not admit that I prefer it here in summer, it is exceptionally beautiful in winter, too. This has been my first-ever White Christmas and—boy, oh, boy!—has it turned it on for me. So. Much. Snow!
On Christmas Eve, we went to Midnight Mass with Charles's parents. Miraculously the church didn't burst into flames for hosting me, but that's a story for another time. On the big day, we had the full-shebang of roast turkey and bûche de Noël, and then the child-cousins killed lots of things dead on the newly-gifted X-Box: some things are universal, I guess.
It felt weird to be so far away from my own family and friends, that's the penalty of so much change. Thankfully all my French lessons are beginning to pay off, though. While the northern Québec accent still has me stumped on some pretty stock phrases, I can now communicate with non-English-speaking members of my new family-in-law and don't feel as bewildered by the conversation as I did back in July.
Yesterday, Charles and I decided to go work off the Christmas stuffing by snowshoeing at Rivière-des-Quinze, about 40km north of Ville-Marie. Stunning! There were only a few other adventurous souls out there, and we had the delight of a fresh track. The little bays, the long vistas and the abundant evidence of an active beaver population ensure we will be back again for a picnic come summer. The track we chose was quite rugged, and as I stopped and stared up one last major climb I was surprised to find myself suddenly on the verge of totally losing my s**t. It was nothing that some water and a good handful of dates and dried figs couldn't fix; however, after two hours of walking, when we finally doubled back on our tracks at the very beginning of the circuit, we found we could barely see them due to the effects of wind and snowfall. Having recently lost one of our beloved cats to hypothermia during a cold snap in Montréal, it was a healthy reminder to not be blithe about a harsh environment simply because it's not the Australian desert.
As we headed back to Ville-Marie, we realised that yesterday, the 28th, was the six-month anniversary of my arrival in Montréal. That was quick! Almost instantaneously, I got a craving for poutine, so we headed to the local casse-croûte, whereupon I promptly demolished a medium heap of that particularly Québécois delicacy—a new world record for me and a most appropriate way to celebrate.