montreal by night

iulie 7, 2010

scorchers.the heat is so incredible that i feel like breathing out all the time and carrying an ice bag around. this has only been the past 2 nights, but will go on for the rest of the week. everything is covered in slickness. the dark is a pulsating joke, no promise of relief. it could be whatever hour: it will only get hotter.

jazz festival. crowds gathered at place-des-arts, streaming in and out with the music. beer trays swaying overhead as a mass of people dance and clap. sitting cross-legged on the pavement, looking at beautiful people (so many), colorful people (everyone), reading t-shirt slogans. the music is tender or/and insane, just floating around.

drinking in the park. actually: drinking local beer, from a too big bottle, on a bench by the lake in the darker part of parc la fontaine, with giggly precautions. close by, a couple with a dog doing the same, but from smarter containers, then falling asleep on the grass, in an embrace. the dog looks on philosophically. a policeman passed by on a sort of a weird moped, but didn’t stop. i bet he knows what’s going on.

the little ducks in parc jarry. the first night they were really small, floating close to the shore smoothly, 10 ducklings with their much bigger mum. this is on the other side of the little ‘island’, away from the  fountain looking like a fleur-de-lys. the second night, less than 2 weeks later, they were a bit grown, swimming in the light, more confidently. i counted them: still 10. i took that as a personal victory.

st-louis fountain. parcs in montreal close at midnight. sometimes the police decides to actually reinforce that rule. it’s full of people by the benches around the fountain (just off-st denis, and on a friday night). two girls decide to step into the fountain, and one of them falls from the ledge and gets her shorts/top soaked. hilarity. she goes in again. a group on another bench has drinks in paper bags. three police people make the round and repeat, politely, to all parties in turn, the request to leave. it’s 2 a.m. everybody waits, still seated, to be told off, before they move away.

„and maybe the thing is to eat flowers and not to be afraid”. sucking pollen out of the big orange flowers than look a bit like lilies. picking a honeysuckle branch. literally smelling the roses, from the wild pink to the deep red. eating ripe raspberries off bushes around duluth/clark. revisiting the grafitti girl on the wall at duluth/hotel de ville. buildings look invitingly mysterious with their turrets and balconies and shaded coziness and ocassionally ivy coats.

rue ontario, on the weekend. rubbing against people trying to make their way up st denis. a bouquinerie still open, old postcards and buttons alongside with the books. the little square by UQAM, how providentially empty and familiarly european it looks for an instant.

parc maisonneuve/ le stade olympique. on quebec day, flooded with people, like a festival, the trampled grass and the sudden mud where the ground was perfectly dry. the wind in the trees and vibrations from the stage. clearings smelling of pot as people disperse. buses filled to capacity, and the half-expected light chaos of a mid-week holiday. let me tell you: you can see that stadium thing from anywhere in montreal, but: it is actually FAR.

parc jean drapeau, on the tiny island, fireworks on the weekend. the dirt road leading to the river, a very strong wind ruffling skirts and scarves. fireworks last half an hour, people gathered casually applaud and comment in all sorts of languages. oooooh as the lights change color, as a tiny delicate star gets unfolded out of a rougher bloom. it’s not even a special day, but it is. every day is special.

the old man who keeps the antique store on my street, with the christmas tree still lit up, and the big einstein picture in the front window, was up  around 2.30 – maybe from a drink of water. he was in his shop, in semi-darkness, in one of those long nightshirts that i tended to believe only existed in movies. he nodded a hello, i waved.

sunrise. past the stage where the newspaper person passes by throwing the individual bundles on their respective porches. daylight seeps in gradually, and a rush of energy comes with the realization that we’re going on subsisting on…what? on virtuality. i should be crashed in a bed somewhere long ago, but i’m going on and the world is going on. that morning the sun did not rise. it just got lighter. close to my building, two squirrels were jumping up a flight of stairs then back into a tree, teasing a cat. the cat never moved, even with them really close by. they’ll be at it for hours, before normal people wake up. time to go to bed, time to catch the bus back. after 5, on buses, they start saying ‘bonne journee’ instead of ‘bonne soiree’, and that’s it. the moment has come and gone.