Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Green Green Grass of Home

Montreal is well-known for its curving outdoor staircases and colourfully painted apartment buildings.

This is a particularly fancy row that has been turned into very sleek and stylish condos, no doubt with appropriate price tags.

Even viewed upside-down in a mud puddle, their charm shines through.

Here's one of those curving staircases.

But every so often, sandwiched between 3-story brick or stone buildings, a little old one-storied charmer crops up.  This is perhaps the sweetest little home I've ever come across in Montreal.

I would love to walk through this gate, enter through the front door, and find myself home.
It's true what they say about the grass always being greener on the other side.

On my way into Montreal from the airport I had quite a long conversation with the Algerian-born cab driver who, when told of my country home with 5 acres back in New Brunswick, assured me that,
"Mais, Madame, vous habitez en Paradis! No stress, no noise, no pollution, no neighbours to bother you.
You have your health--with all that, Madame, vous êtes riche!"

How does one argue with that?
One simply doesn't.
I told him I would think of him while sipping my glass of wine in the glider swing this summer.



  1. I love the upside down version but they look lovely right way up too.The colours must be so welcoming to come home to,especially in winter.

    Enjoy sipping wine in your Paradise!

  2. Oh I have come over all Dr Suessy, "The places I will go..." I love this row of houses and that mud puddle world looks pretty good too (ugh, waiter why does this coffee taste like dirt? "I don't know, it was only ground this morning..")

    All these shakes have addled my brain.

    I'll shut up and help you with that glass/vat of wine shall I? Very good then...

  3. Looks and feels nearly too beautiful to be true. How proud people must be owning such a city.

    Thank you for this walk. Please have a good Friday you all.

    daily athens

  4. what a gorgeous row of painted ladies - lovely architectural details...Greetings from Mexico...

  5. oh my, i am spellbound! i have to confess my ignorance, i have never seen Montreal photos and these houses look really amazing, of course one needs a special eye to catch those reflections or match those lilac stairs with the blooming lilac, so i am aware that this is a 'filtered' view at things, but i am sure it looks equally lovely in reality...
    and i cannot but echo that driver, you really are in paradise, 5 acres!!!

  6. Charming indeed! Makes me want to visit Montreal. Today! I love the upside down picture, and the little house is for sure very charming. Wonderful pictures.

    Like you, I enjoy chatting with cab drivers in other cities. They often have such wonderful stories to share, but as your driver implied, the grass is not necessarily greener elsewhere, and sometimes we overlook the wonders of our own lives.

    Thank you for allowing all of us to visit Montreal with you! I very much enjoyed the trip.

  7. Like one of my favourite songs, "building a staircase to Paradise, with a few steps everyday".

  8. Lilacs and a purple staircase. How charming!

  9. you cannot really argue with that, not successfully, anyway... though you are getting pretty close with your nostalgic photos of home-y beauty in Montreal :)

  10. When one is in paradise, does one know it ? Or is paradise, by definition, somewhere where one is not currently sitting sipping ? I'd love to go up that winding staircase, and find myself home, after spending the afternoon out splashing in mud puddles... Well, that is what toads do best !

  11. Oh thank you for taking me home. I so miss this city. I remember those winding stairs very well.. treacherous in winter!

  12. I'll do my best to find myself sipping & glidding with you this summer ~

    WV babirb - I'll take that as a good omen ; )

    PS Was good to see you.

  13. Forest Dream,
    A dash of bright colour does so much to enliven and cheer up a city street, doesn't it. Also makes it easier to find one's home in the snow, you're right!

  14. Saj,
    Well, look at you all dressed up as the Cat in the Hat! You wear it well. Your comment definitely gives me grounds for making us Spanish coffees, I'd say. We'll work our way up (or down, as the case me be) to that vat of wine.

  15. Robert,
    Montrealers, indeed, are very proud of their city,as well they should be. I'd venture to say it's the most vibrant and culturally rich city in Canada.

  16. Catherine,
    Nice to be able to offer up a bit of bright city colours to you for a change!

  17. Roxana,
    It's true, we do each filter what we see through our own preferences and sensitivities, to say nothing of mood. I guess that's partly what makes blogs so fascinating--seeing a world we might never get to visit is interesting enough, but to see it through another's eyes is even more fascinating.
    Yes, we do have a little corner of paradise, at least in the summer...but I think paradise is more a state of being than of place.

  18. Audrey,
    It's always a bit of an adventure to climb into the back of a taxi cab. I don't really like taking cabs, but I think that has more to do with the meter turning over so quickly and those numbers getting so big so fast.

    I have a few more Montreal photos up my sleeve before the tour's over!

  19. Shirl,
    Oh, the perfect musical note to underscore this posting! Wish I'd have thought of it. Good thing for me that Pierre's such a handyman as he keeps the staircase of this little corner of (sometimes) paradise in good repair. Now if I could only get him to appreciate the green grass on the other side of the fence (country.

  20. jann,
    Isn't it charming! I wonder which came first, the lilacs or the paint on the wall. Whichever, someone has an eye for colour.

  21. manuela,
    I am so encouraged by your comment that I'm getting close in building a convincing case that I am perhaps not living in paradise despite outward appearances! I think every Paradise has its own snake hiding under the leafy perfection (even if it's one's own mind).

  22. Owen,
    I do believe you've hit the snake right between its beady little eyes (careful--snakes eat toads!): Paradise is wherever one is not currently sitting, sipping. Paradise is an illusion, a state of mind more than place.
    If you were to galumph up that winding Montreal staircase, enter the door and find yourself home, and I entered through that Montreal iron fence, opened the front door of that little blue house and found myself home, well then we could be neighbours and wouldn't that be fun!
    There are many lovely looking triplexes in Montreal for sale. Maybe be could get the Saj in on a deal and buy one all together and move to La Belle Province! What larks we'd have! And far fewer snakes in the grass in Montreal than Paradise.

  23. Hilary,
    Glad you're enjoying the, walk! Let us not speak of Montreal winters...or even those suffocatingly hot and humid days of summer.

  24. Driftwood,
    It has been many a long year since we've sat and sipped in the swing together. In fact, I don't believe we sipped the same substances when you were in the 'hood! Must make up for lost time.

    Recent Kibbles sighting was sweet, if short--and a wee bit noisy!

  25. Wow! Just walking down the street is a plethora of rich subject matter! Your treatment style might be a good fit for the violet spiral staircase with the pink brick wall and pink flowering tree. Or even the reflection of the triangular row of upside down houses--what a striking photo! And the houses themselves are so gorgeous. I love the little fairy tale one, too. As for the cab driver, I think you are lucky to have both the pastoral country home and the taste of city life, too.

    WV: bidess
    Monsieur et Madame, voici votre chambre et la salle de bain. Le bidet (pour hommes) est a gauche et la bidesse (pour femmes) est a droite.

  26. Montreal is a fabulous city in which to photograph the various forms of architecture. What great choices you made! That little, pristine, blue house does pull one in!

    I live about 25 miles outside of Mtl., near Mont-St-Hilaire. Do you visit Montreal often? Why we're practically neighbors - just a province away!

  27. Bonnie,
    I visit Montreal 2 or 3 times a year as my daughter lives there, in the Plateau area. Even though you and I are practically neighbours, with next door provinces, it's still a looooong drive or a costly proposition to travel from one to the other.

  28. Margaret,
    I agree with you, walking down a Montreal street brings countless photo ops! It is such an interesting city with so much going on. I particularly love the tree-lined neighbourhoods with their pocket handkerchief-sized front gardens.

    I also agree that a pastoral setting for one's home with a near-by, easily accessible city would be ideal. I have the pastoral part.

    Matching his and her bidets? The height of decadence...or foolishness?

  29. I have always wanted to visit Montreal - now even more so! xx

  30. Good idea ! As soon as I win the lottery, one project will be a Montreal triplex where the Saj and yourself and I (perhaps with our respective spouses) could meet for tea and scones with strawberry jam and literary conversations... (am just reading the Guersey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and enjoying it immensely. Well, maybe not just tea. I rather the suspect the Saj is going to be wanting something stronger to calm her after all this trembling going on down there.

  31. Although, hmm, maybe on second thought a country house on a lake, like the one in "The Decline of the American Empire" would be better?

  32. Lulu,
    And you could shoot one of your fabulous videos while there!

  33. Owen,
    Yessss!!!! Though as it's Montreal, I think either croissants or bagels would be more fitting than scones. Respective spouses are certainly welcome...I think all 3 are into cooking so that could work out well for everyone! I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society this winter, at the recommendation of my sister-in-law, and thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

  34. Owen 2,
    Maybe you could buy back the lakeside triplex that Pierre's father used to own in the townships to augment the Montreal triplex. It is good to get out of the city from time to time. Not too sure I'd wish to reenact Le Declin, though.