A week ago I was in Montreal, one of my favourite Canadian cities—actually one of my favourite cities anywhere.
I had some work to do with a colleague with whom I am co-editing a book, and I have learned from past experience with projects of this kind that there is only so much one can do by email and trading documents back and forth. My colleague lives on the prairies and rather than me going there or her coming here, we decided to rent an apartment in Montreal. What an excellent idea that was! We had a two bedroom fully equipped apartment on the Plateau, steps away from Parc LaFontaine, the Metro, a taxi stand, shops, cafes and restaurants of all kinds.
It was hot, hot, hot, as July can be in Montreal, so we were grateful to have air conditioning and a good shower. The apartment was clean, modern, comfortable. I could have lived in it quite happily.
We quickly established something of a routine. A walk (me)/run (her) in the early morning before the humidity set in.
We breakfasted in the apartment on bagels, cheese, fruit and tea and then went to fetch a coffee to get us set up for the beginning of the workday. We worked at the dining room table, each of us with enough room to set up laptops and spread out essays and notes. We talked a lot, riffing ideas off each other, suggesting revisions and remembering sources that we could recommend to authors. We googled a lot.
Lunch break was something to look forward to. Especially the Lebanese food at the corner.
A few errands after lunch (ahem. cough. go and buy wine) and then back to work. We took turns writing the notes and we had a lot of fun getting into the book, imagining it taking shape, noting what we want to write in the introduction. Stop at 4 o’clock and nap or go out. Dinner in the neighbourhood—why go anywhere else?
And then some Netflix TV.
We both slept well—it was a quiet, cool, safe neighbourhood. And we both felt that we had accomplished what we needed to in terms of the progress of the project. Added bonus was spending a few days in Montreal. Extra added bonus was getting to know my colleague better. Oh, the gossip!
On my way home by train I was boarding the train from Toronto to Kitchener, the last leg of the journey, just as the deluge hit. The sky darkened; the heavens opened. We got soaked to the skin just walking along the platform to the train. While in the train the windows were running with water. It was like being in a car wash. But then we looked out of the window and saw the flooding. The track was covered in water; water was cascading down embankments; we saw underpasses flooded and cars up their bumpers in water or worse. Sirens, lights, drama. Wow! I’d never seen anything like it. Luckily we kept moving, slowly. I got home safe and sound.
Work done. Pleasure had. Weather survived.