Glen Sutton August 9

Good morning! Another sunny day in Glen Sutton. Might be a bit warmer than desirable for intensive biking, but it’s lovely to be out in the sunshine.

The chosen offerings for breakfast today were hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon pieces, and some assorted muffins and croissant parts. I discovered the almond butter and wild cherry jam, and made good use of both. We grabbed our lunches, and set off on our adventure.

The first stop was Jean’s apartment so he could pick up his water bottle. And that’s where I found the featured kitty, though there was some debate if it was a large cat or a small dog. The second stop, of frabjous day, was the monastery St. Benoit-du-lac in the little town with the same name. It had been Louise Penny’s model for the monastery Saint-Gilbert-Entre-Les-Loups in her eighth book of the Inspector Gamache series, A Beautiful Mystery. This is cool almost beyond reckoning. The monks were chanting in the chapel when I arrived there, so I waited until they turned to the altar to get some photos:

Joy said the original monastery had burned down, and they replaced it with a style that looked like a modern interpretation of high Gothic. Like this:

I especially liked this photo of the steeple matched by a tall tree, though Phoebe and I were wondering why the crucifix was sideways rather than facing forward.The outline of the various planes of the roofs is just amazing.P1020240 Most of the group made their way downstairs to buy the excellent cheese, chocolates and other goodies that the monks made. I settled for a package of chocolate-covered blueberries, and chocolate-covered fruit. Joy confiscated them as soon as I made the parking lot so she could store them in the cooler. I’m trying not to think about them while I’m writing.

So then we hopped on our bikes and headed out. Some of the groups climbed back into the bus to find  a better spot for starting, i.e., closer to the lunch spot. David said later he was impressed that I managed the route wearing just sneakers, not fancy cycling shoes. I confessed to walking up a couple hills. After many hills, some of them rolling, some radical, several encounters with road crews driving trucks belching black smoke, and a quick stop at a tiny market, P1020241

we ended up in a little park in Mansonville for lunch. It had the luxury of both a library and a visitors’ center facing the square, so we had bathroom choices. I had an interesting discussion with the person in the visitors’ center regarding French/English terminology for the room I was seeking. They also had a gaily-painted piano (loved the cat) in the bandstand of the square, and I was able to bang out a few tunes. That felt so good.P1020242

There was still time for a quick jaunt to the Owl’s Bread Boulangerie down the street. Here’s the owl that welcomed us in, and though they didn’t have many goodies left, from having been ransacked by hungry cyclists, these looked very tempting: I got a little almond tart that almost made it safely back to the lodge. Elaine was feeling righteous and resisted temptation.

We received various reports regarding elevation and distance for the trip back to the Lodge. There was also the possibility of tossing our bikes on the rack and getting a ride home in the van, but we resisted that, though some, perhaps, regretted it later. Joy showed me how riding back and forth across the road while going up a steep hill makes it (slightly) easier, and it helped. And Joy also joined me to admire these gorgeous cattle: P1020245

It wasn’t that late, a little after 2:30, when I spotted the driveway to the Lodge and turned it. It’s certainly an indication of my motivation to find my own way home. I’ve peeked in the kitchen and observed beets, purple cabbage and fresh thyme on the cutting board. Oh boy. Stay tuned.

There were sightings yesterday evening of beef being prepped, but not served that day for dinner. And there had been a mention of “boeuf bourguignon” that piqued our interest on the ride. And we were right. First there was a delicious salad I didn’t get a photo of, with the afore-spotted beets, cabbage, crisp greens, some crunchy stick of meat, and a little golden flower. Most diners passed on the flower, but it was edible. Then came the boeuf–we watched the kitchen staff spoon the piles of mashed potatoes into the bowls, then the meat, then a little sour cream and a sprig of fennel. It was really, really quiet in the dining room when we started eating. Reverential. How to top an entree like that? Consider blueberry pie with a scoop of Cherry Garcia ice cream. Consider it, and drool. That’s what we did. Here’s the photos:

I had really been looking forward to hearing tonight’s lecture about the history of Quebec. The speaker was Jim Manson, who had taught at various universities in the area and been with Road Scholar for more than 20 years.  Mansonville, where we had lunch, had been named after his family. He concentrated on the more recent history of Quebec, the Quiet Revolution and the Separatist Movement. I had done some readings about that, but he brought it all aspects of the situation together very well. As an observant adult who had lived through a lot of the recent turmoil, he was also able to add a more personal prospective. His listeners were very appreciative, and gave him a big round of applause when he was done. I chatted with him a bit about it, and he was most intrigued by my grandfather’s family’s move to New England, and how quickly, in one generation, all “Quebec” characteristics of language and culture had disappeared. I guess that’s often the case.

I’ll end with my sighting of wildlife, right on the grounds of the Lodge. It’s the only wild mammal I’ve seen so far, and it was really cute. Good night.P1020246

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