Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Our Laurentians

In 1932, my paternal grandfather went on a hunting trip in the Laurentians with some of his friends. I’m not sure of all of the logistics, but I do know that it involved flying over the Laurentians in a small airplane. My grandfather, so the story goes, looked down at one of the many lakes and declared that he wanted it. So, after their hunting trip ended, he got in the car and drove around trying to find that one lake. He found a farmer and asked if he knew if there was a lake nearby. The farmer said there was only the big one a ways down the road, Lac Masson, or in the other direction Lac Des Îles. The farmer’s wife then reminded her husband that there was a lake, at the very back of their property, that they used to swim in as kids. The farmer never went back there, and had completely forgotten that there was a lake there. The farmer and his wife invited my grandfather and his friend to stay for a meal. My grandfather, who spoke French as his third language, but was raised with Yiddish and English, was asked about his accent, where in Quebec he was from. My grandfather said he lived in Montreal, but wasn’t Quebecois. He said he was Jewish. The farmer declared that it wasn’t possible – where were my grandfather’s horns?!

Fast forward a couple years, and my grandfather owns a good chunk of land to the north of Ste-Marguerite[-Du-Lac-Masson]. He built a few homes, put some docks on the lake’s shore, and made a road. My father learnt to swim there, as did most of his cousins. My father sold a good deal of the homes and land before I was born, but kept a couple homes for the family. I’ve been told we spent a bunch of time there when I was a kid, but I don’t remember. (I do remember the other homes our family had outside of Val-Morin, which is also where the family reunion was. As well as the home on Lac Robert, named after my father, though I can’t remember what town that’s near.)

Which brings us to Sunday, when I get an email from my first-cousin-once-removed, who lives up at one of those homes. He’s coming into Montreal on Thursday, and has invited me to join him for the ride back, to stay as long as I want. I asked my father about it since, well, I haven’t seen this guy since… my bar mitzvah? My memories of him are limited. I remember a stranger sitting in a car outside our Toronto home for hours. When I told my parents he was there, they weren’t surprised. A few weeks later, that same “stranger” presented my parent with a painting of our house, for her birthday. I remember that for my bar mitzvah I received a similar gift; a really detailed sketch of my bedroom, but the perspectives were intentionally skewed and warped. He taught architecture at Parsons. And then I remember that he worked as an escort on the Queen Elizabeth II, dancing away the winters with the women who cruised instead of snowbirding to Florida. (Tuxedo escort, the real meaning of “high class escort,” not someone you’d phone after finding their advertisement in the back of your city’s free weekly newspaper.)

So Thursday I’ll be going up there with him. I’m looking forward to swimming in the lake, relaxing, and catching up on some reading. I’ll either come back Friday in time for Shabbat, or Saturday night.

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Filed under: family, travels

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