Unfailingly, Montrealers embrace autumn with leaf-peeping trips to the Laurentians, Eastern Townships and the Mauricie that can take on the import of a pilgrimage. Plans were afoot for predawn departures and long days of photography in the hinterland when the clock struck midnight – more precisely, 12:01 AM – on Thursday, October 1. With the goal of averting a second wave, at that moment the city entered an ominous-sounding, 28-day, red-alert lockdown.
One of the many restrictions we have been asked to abide by is to avoid travel between regions. This fall I won’t be admiring the foliage along the Rouge River, from the summit of Owl’s Head above Lake Memphremagog, or in the Mastigouche Wildlife Reserve. Instead, I can be found in the neighbourhood still enjoying Mother Nature’s spectacular, albeit on a smaller, decidedly urban stage.
Good fun: While I was taking photos near the Oratory during a heavy rain, a gaggle of teenage girls came down the cul-de-sac from Villa Sainte-Marcelline, a private school in nearby Westmount. In this singularly aberrant year, they inadvertently provided a reminder of normality. The language spoken beneath their face masks was as colourful as the surrounding leaves as they goofed around, got soaking wet and, despite checks and curbs imposed by Covid-19, for a few moments found pure joy.
© 2020 Daniel Wiener