On last Friday evening, the kickoff to the first of the spring-to-Labour Day long weekends, the delightful Chasse-Balcon drew us and scores of others to a street-corner in the Mile-End neighbourhood. An ensemble of musicians led by the warmly hospitable Catherine Planet gather to play traditional music in Montréal neighbourhoods, a different one every weekend from May into mid-June. Inspired by a similar event in Louisiana, and making use of Montréal's winding outdoor staircases, the musicians played reels and jigs for about an hour, and enjoined the crowd to serre les mains, two-step, sing along, and play spoons.
It's a particular interest of Planet's to build community though shared musical experiences, and you could definitely feel that happening among the convival crowd.
You could listen, dance... or kiss:
Then, we strolled along Avenue du Parc toward a tiny taquiera, where the warm evening showed what women are wearing once out of coats. This seemed to be a bachelorette party, with several young women in the wide-legged cropped pants that are showing up everywhere, and one, background, in the runner-up, the knife-pleated midi skirt.
I also admired her vintage-looking skirt printed with travel posters, worn with a pink tee.
A golden evening draws flâneurs of all ages. This arrondissement, among others, has installed new street furniture, already in enthusiastic use, especially by elders, who appreciate a place to sit to catch up with friends.
We picked up a half-dozen sesame bagels straight out of the oven:
and walked home in air scented with just-blooming lilacs, to the apartment into which we moved exactly five years ago this weekend. An evening like this, full of music, lit by diverse, vibrant street life, and ready access to food from so many cultures, from the swank to the simple, reaffirms the decision.
Never mind that last week (May 16) we saw snow in the air, this is the north—and when the weather breaks, there is nothing as exhilarating as Montréal's massed joy.