Monday, 1 July 2013


It's a difficult day, July 1, as I think about how far away I am -- in time and space -- from Parliament Hill.... and the experience of standing in a crowd under bright blue skies singing the national anthem, feeling wildly sentimental and proud to be Canadian. Even though I'm living on the other side of the pond, I am extremely proud of my heritage and certainly find more occasions to announce my "Canadian-ness" than I would if I were still in Ottawa. Here, at every opportunity that arises, I vouchsafe that "mais, je suis Canadienne"...

Sometimes it gets me down that neither the French nor the English among my acquaintances have any idea of my country's history -- no one around here knows that today is Canada's 146th birthday -- or its politics (no one knows who Harper is & although that might be seen as a good thing it still annoys me).

I am not speaking for all of France, mind you... just my rural situation here in Tornac & Anduze. Over the years I have spent several happy Canada Days in Paris, where the Canadian Embassy throws open the courtyard of the official residence to Canadians -- those living in France and those visiting on holiday. My favorite recollection is of the year I attended with Brian Spence who runs the ABBEY BOOKSHOP, a wonderfully jammed-and-crammed-with-books Canadian bookstore at 29 rue de la Parcheminerie, just off the Boulevard St. Germain in the 5th.  (
We were thrilled to see that Pierre Trudeau had arrived with two of his sons, and we were not the only ones thrilled. As if the crowd were composed of iron filings and the former prime minister were a magnet, within a few seconds a line had formed, people wanting to shake his hand. He met hundreds of admirers that afternoon, speaking with everyone for a minute or two... His days of political power were long over, but he still had that extraordinary gift of personal charisma... un homme inoubliable.

 July 1 is a bittersweet day for me, there's no question. Missing my homeland, and also missing my closest friend who died four years ago today. No one, nothing can ever replace her, I'll just go on missing her forever.

So here's a summer bouquet , picked this morning on my walk along the river, from me to anyone reading this post today...Happy Canada Day.