For a West-Coaster, Quebec at the end of this summer was like hot cereal eaten between two winters. A brash reminder of what summer could have been if only it existed this year, only with the sun being quite sedated as it already approaches autumn and has its rays slightly off-target, therefore bearable even at 28 celsius.
The other, less urban destination, though in the midst of the city was Montréal Botanical Garden, a place I fondly remember visiting with my dear grandmother since babyhood. Even when she’s not there with me it feels as if she is.
The seasons change the garden’s shape, colour and atmosphere as plants go through different phases in their life cycle, disappear and reappear. I was excited to find things in the garden that I haven’t seen before. A place I always have to check is the Aquatic Garden – a rare opportunity to smell water lilies up close and the first place where I smelled real pink lotus – at the time being larger than my daughter’s head and just as fragrant. However, pink lotus was in far more abundance that I could have ever imagined possible in the Chinese Garden (beautiful and large as it is, it seems somewhat chintzy and definitely not as authentic as Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Garden at the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown) Candy-sweet, warm and spicy nuances of star-anise, fresh pink lotus flowers are like no other flower. They are impressive in every possible way.
In previous years, one of my favourite spots was the Lilacs and Flowery Brooks Garden, a place of peaceful summer daydreaming as in that of the woman who could conjure a lilac grove besides a maze of brooks, bridges and luscious lilies of all sizes, colours and shapes. This time of the year I’ve witnessed only a couple of bushes at the end of their bloom with only a couple of clusters against the feathery skies. The lilies were for the most part gone, except for the daylily, which surprised me with its very lilac-like fragrance.
And lastly, out of the city there were cornfields and hayfields. Fields of hay, wide and open after the late harvest (twhich usually takes place around mid-August, which was too rainy and wet this year) emit their fragrance quietly and expansively. Dry hay fills the air with a bittersweet sense of freedom and the outdoors, something you can only feel in the countryside during summer. Bails of hay in the shape of gigantic toilet paper roll looking picturesque in the most Van-Goghic way possible as if posing for the occasional artist passerby.