At lunch time today, I went for a walk along rue Jean-Talon to browse in a couple of the pile-em-high grocery stores. One was Wal-Mart, the other was one belonging to the budget chain of the company I work for. Ours was bright, modern, clean and well stocked with fresh produce in the 'Marché' half of the store. It was, however, largely empty. Wal-Mart, by comparison, was depressingly crowded to the roof. Not just with shoppers, but with merchandise (bathroom tissue, nappies, tyres... you name it) piled in the aisles.
Outside in the parking lots, the very last of Montréal's snow is finally melting (we are predicted 16C tomorrow) under the warm rays of a sun shining in clean blue skies. In front of this Sears Décor you can see the sad impression the snow gives. As the snow is ploughed throughout the winter, it picks up the grit spread to provide grip in icy weather (not to mention litter and the odd shopping trolley). These massive banks of snow (sometimes three or four metres tall... see this post for more) are now receding and reducing, but the grit and litter and shopping carts remain. What was once a shining white mountain has reduced to a dirty grey mass. Winter has passed too quickly this year, and it has left some ugly reminders.
Since it's spring, things are changing. I put it down in some part to this magical week, during which Europe has advanced to summer time, but in which North America will remain without daylight saving for until next weekend. Everything is buzzing... Ryan and I have both independently started cleaning and bustling around the apartment in a frenzied state, desirous of some kind of change. Some of the plants we have come closest to killing off (despite love, attention and water) are now on the balcony benefitting from sun and fresh air. The cats are celebrating the warmer weather by molting hair at an incredible rate, and we remain amazed that there is anything left of Cucu (who molts all year round) considering the amount of hair she is leaving on anything that touches or strokes her. And we hear that across the Atlantic, French society is beginning to grind to a halt and fall apart. Simmering sentiments of angst have found an outlet in the streets, which is surely a more enjoyable and social thing to do now that the days are getting longer.
Most weeknights at 2300hr, I listen to the Prémiere Chaîne of Société Radio-Canada broadcast the news from Radio France Internationale in Paris. For an organisation so renowed for it's journalism and news reporting, no-one in the SRC seemed to have noticed that due to stike action, the RFI programme from Paris was replaced tonight with a pre-programmed selection of music. I am left without my nightly news from Europe, and without the personal amusement of hearing the RFI announcer remind me that Paris is now seven hours ahead of us. As I lie here in my bed typing this post before I turn the light off, a distant friend in Paris will soon be getting up to go to work (assuming the architects haven't gone on strike that is...)