Blog Entry

Quebec 1 – French Lakes and Danish Words

August 7, 2010 by Kimberli, under Photography, Quebec, Writing.

Hot, heavy air whips stray hairs across our faces as my host sister Helena’s black Nitro convertible barrels down the Canadian back road like the stallion it is.  I hold my camera up and out to take blurred photographs of the mirrored lakes passing by only to capture telephone poles and yellow pavement lines.  Memories, not art.  I click the shutter at my sister’s reflection in the rearview mirror.  Tan and toe-headed as she was in Denmark 25 years earlier.  I’ve come to rural Quebec to celebrate her 40th birthday.  Her parents, who we both call Mor and Far, have flown in from their second home in Spain and are buckled fast into their leather seats.  We laugh together as the construction workers yell out in French, “Hey, look at that Mustang!”  Along with the birthday celebration, we’ve met here in the middle of our worlds to share the complicated happenings of the past three years.  Such a short time since our last week together in the lakeside summerhouse in Sunds, Denmark.  My then-husband and I drinking schnapps and eating pickled herring with my host parents.  So much has changed since that time and less.

That lake in Denmark is where Helena and I, in 1986, took a little rowboat and drifted out under the summer’s night sun at 3:00 AM.  We were 16, with the entire night sky and future open to us.  We used words like hope, desire, trust to imagine our lives.  I knew all those words and many more in Danish.  I had no need for the words I need now.  Words like funeral and grief.  No reason then to have words like betrayal, heartbreak, divorce.  Our Danish mother called us from the shore.  “Come back, girls.”  There in the middle of our lake, we hesitated before answering.

The Mustang comes to a sudden stop in Magog, Quebec and the French language I have no words for at all floods in from all sides.  We unfold ourselves and emerge like damp butterflies on this new Canadian lake.  It’s 2010.

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