Summer in the city/summer closure

I waited with three young men at the bus stop; I 'd say age sixteen. "Vous allez bien, madame?" one asked rhetorically, with an arch courtliness.

He offered me a hit from his vape. "Je fumais jamais", I told him. All three sets of eyes flickered the verdict: Madame was clearly a prude. "...sauf les joints", I added, and was rewarded with relaxed laughter: "Les joints, ben oui!"

In truth I was a only an occasional pot smoker, but it was a bridge to more conversation and I don't get to chat with many teens.

They told me they had just been released from the minimum security institution that is high school in June. I remembered the day the lockers were cleaned out,  tasks assigned when there was no more homework to review. Even those reporting to summer jobs the next day felt fizzy with excitement.

I didn't so much envy their youth—the time and possibility ahead—as the experience of that particular release.

Today I leave online life for a few months, as I have for the last decade. I step off the blog platform, read newspapers, use a flip phone with no internet connection. The few exceptions: Netflix and personal e-mail.

Awaiting is stack of books, a series of beloved friends' visits, a vibrant city to experience outside the digital world. I won't line up for the latest multimedia installation. I'll rise early to drink coffee on a terrasse, stay up late with a margarita.

Summer is not a fashion season, if you're no longer office-bound: soft old jeans for walking a dog, a floaty skirt for torrid days, a gauzy tunic you can dress up. Your hair will go limp or frizzy depending, and it won't matter. Iris Apfel said , "With a good haircut and shoes you can get away with anything", and for the next several months, even the shoes can go!

In Montréal summers, most everyone bends toward goodwill. "Eté enfin!" reads a chalkboard in front of the neighbourhood pub; plump toddlers scamper on the splash pad next door while tired parents watch from a blanket. After dark, ripples of revelry from our street's many cafés float up to our balcony and I think of a song from over fifty years ago, "Night in the City", by Joni Mitchell:

"Night time, night time
Day left an hour ago
City light time
Must you get ready so slow?
There are places to come from
And places to go..."

Joni wrote that in 1965 about another atmospheric neighbourhood, Yorkville Avenue, in Toronto, and sings it here, in 1967:

The shutters roll down

The Passage re-opens September 4. 2019.

Thanks to those who took the time the to comment, when moved. As one reader said, "I comment to give something back." Your participation keeps non-monetized blogging alive.

And thanks, too, to those who shared jewellery projects: Adele, Alice, Laura J, LauraH, and to Luba and Marie for their questions about restyling and replacement. You have inspired others, and the renos are such fun to see. Someone else, engaged in multiple renos, promises a peek when we're back.

Have a blissful summer.


Laura J said…
Enjoy your break! Looking forward to your return!
Enjoy your summer! Linger on the sunny patio & bask in the moonlight.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge of jewelry, particularly pearls, and your wisdom of love and loss.
Venasque said…
Ah that brought back memories. At the Riverboat I assume. Some of my mispent youth was spent in Yorkville - long hot nights, music, dope (lots of dope), fashion, while fascinated people in cars from the 'burbs drove by looking at us like we were in a cage. I remember McLeans (I think) wrote an article about the area with pictures in one of which my soon to be husband appeared as an example of 'what youth had become'. We were going to hell in a handbasket for sure.
LauraH said…
50 years ago! How did that happen? Enjoy:-)
You give us so much. I enjoy your columns so much though I rarely comment. Enjoy your summer holidays.
PS - Thanks for the Joni Mitchell clip. What a wonder!
Simona said…
Happy summer! Thank you for all the thoroughly enjoyable reads.
I'm glad I've had the haircut. Between the horrific icy weather and a friend who was a pivot of our social circle slowly dying; and top of that my hairstylist having an injury, and the shop where he worked shutting down during the endless work on St-Hubert, moving to another location and tracking him down (this sounds like a tragicomic Italian film from the old days) my hair was far too long, limp and frizzy at once (just kept it up and wore hats). Now just kinky-curly, but I'm fine with that.

Late friend's widow could multiply the tragicomedy with, in addition to St-Hubert (close to chez elle), a huge renovation of the underbelly of Jean-Talon Métro. They had deliberately moved, with her son and his family in the upper flat, just across from an entrance to that two-line métro. Now the only access for pedestrians runs through the alley next to their house. I caught a guy peeing on her tree...

Hope there will be tango in your park again. The line-up for the Italian films at Parc Dante looks very promising this year: All with French or English subtitles.
Patricia said…
Enjoy your well-deserved break Duchesse!
Madame Là-bas said…
Bonnes vacances! You must enjoy such a vibrant city in the summer. We're always happy when you return.
Duchesse said…
Venasque: Thank you for the memoir. I did not get to Yorkville till ‘71, and already then people talked about “ the old days” but ( you are right) The Riverboat was still going strong and we’d stay with a friend at Rochdale. Just the kind of adventure you would expect.
Reese said…
Have a lovely summer; looking forward to your postings again in the cool autumn. Great Joni Mitchell song; I don't think I've heard it before. Thanks for introducing me to another treasure from her.
Janet D said…
I enjoy your writing too. Lots of inspiration on so many subjects as well as pearls. Through reading your blog I found and ordered some pretty blue Tahitian drop earrings for my sixtieth in July, all the way from Kojima in California to Cambridge UK. Very special! Enjoy your summer! Janet D
Leslie M said…
Your summer plans sound glorious. Enjoy every moment. I will impatiently wait for your return. 😎
Bonnes vacances! I enjoy your blog very much.

Champycorn said…
Although I rarely comment, I never fail to read your post. Thank you for sharing and do come back for more. Enjoy your summer!
Adele said…
Bonnes vacances! We are starting our summer with birthday celebrations for my husband (his 70th) and then again in August with celebrations for our grandson (his 3rd). Even though I'm still working full time, Summer seems more relaxed and easy-going and there's always that out-of-school-and-free feeling just below the surface of everything.

Will look forward to reconnecting with the Passage community in September!
Tiffany said…
Have a wonderful summer! Looking forward to September 4th.
Angela Pea said…
Have a lovely summer!

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