On Saturday morning, we woke up, had a leisurely breakfast of Appams, showered, packed, and got in the car T. had rented to go pick up an extra sleeping bag from A. and M., and then fetch J. and A. for the drive up north. We got a little detour off the highway, but righted ourselves and drove out around noon, north towards Mont Tremblant. Once we passed Tremblant, we turned southwest and drove past Lac des Plages. The road became winding and hilly, and J. took over the wheel. We drove through small towns and narrow roads filled with gabled houses and potted flowering plants, and interspresed by long stretches of highway flanked by escarpments on either side.
At around 3:30 pm, we reached Cheneville, where J.’s family lives, close to St. Emilie de Suffolk. Her mother’s sisters and brothers number 13 in all, and live in and around the area. We went to Bernard and Renee’s house. They own a hill, and have built their farmhouse on top of it. They keep a few cows and acres of land that they rent out for hay-making. Bernard and Renee met in the army, were posted in Germany, and later joined the circus as an acrobat couple. He would suspend her from a rope around his neck, while she did acrobatics on it. Later, they owned a sheep farm and he started doing meshwis professionally.
Which is what we had for dinner that night. It was J.’s mother’s birthday, and the entire family decided to get together and have a large feast. When we arrived with our salad, beer, and wine in tow, an entire lamb was turning on a coal spit. The aroma made us salivate with hunger. Bernard put the lamb on at 1:30 pm, and six and a half hours later, it was ready to eat. Two peope lifted the whole pole off the spit, carried the lamb to a large table, laid it down, then cut it. The garden outside their house was filled with people. A long table was laid out for 35, and we all sat around it. The lamb melted in our mouths, and was accompanied by a range of salads and breads and sauces, all brought by the various guests to the party. Several beers, and bottles of wine later, people were dancing and singing, a bonfire was started, and the candles came out. Then dessert, delectable. By 1 am, everyone was stuffed to the gills and happy. (Pictures to come.)
We said goodnight to whoever was left and drove through a field of tall grass in our little city car, singing loudly to scare away the bears. Bernard and Renee have a little log cabin on their property, in a forested area where the woods run down to a small rushing stream. Bernard, his brothers, and their father built the cabin with their own hands, felling the trees, stripping the bark, and levelling the wood. We had another bottle of wine together and slept there that night, falling asleep to the sound of rushing water and wild ducks calling in the woods.