fIRST PUBLISHED:Sep 10, 2008 11:44 PM
After a disastrous summer we are told to expect an Indian summer. Well, it will be welcome if it comes, but we Brits are made of stern stuff. Everyone knows we take cold baths, have smoky fires, outside loos, bad food and teeth, stiff upper lips and field a straight bat [whatever that means] All I know for a fact is that the leaves on my
Virginia creeper are beginning to turn a glorious red, and no... I don't have a picture to illustrate the fact and if I did I wouldn't be able to find the place to put it...even if my scanner was working, which it isn't for some reason I have not been able to fathom. So come on folks, you all know what a sight to behold Virginia creeper is in its full autumnal glory, so I shall have to ask you to use your imagination, and further, to use it again to picture the scene I am about to describe to you.
In October 1966 we emigrated to Canada, Quebec to be exact, me, JP and our three children aged, at that time 8,4, and six months. We had chosen Canada because Australia was too far, the USA too full and because JP is French and we figured, wrongly as it turned out, that being French we would have a head start [but that isn't the story I want to tell.]
As you can imagine, with three very young children the trip over was more of constant gallop around the deck chasing the four year old, amusing the eight year old and taking care of the baby...none of these activities helped by the fact that JP was sick from the moment the ship left Southampton until we docked in Quebec and also explains why we missed the session arranged for immigrants on the last night, consequences meant we landed as lost and alone in that vast Hall as strangers on the moon. However, as usual I digress.
What I wanted to tell you about happened very early in the morning of our last day aboard.
I woke before dawn and so did daughter no 1. We dressed quickly and warmly and went up on deck. We seemed to be alone on that huge ship. The air was still and the ship glided along as if magically powered, engines must have been working but we didn't hear them, so beautiful was the sight that met our eyes. I don't know how far we were from the banks of the river, a hundred metres perhaps. There was a very low, white mist over the water and to our right, glowing in the light from the rising sun was a frieze of autumnal colours, reds, oranges, browns and yellows, that went on for mile after mile. As the sun rose the colours intensified against a backdrop of the bluest sky. As we glided past I don't think we spoke, we just held hands and stood, in awe for a very long time. What a welcome that was.
Nothing that happened to us on our Canadian adventure would ever match the magic of that morning. And that too is another story.