Letter to Lucie

Paysage d'hiver sur l'île de Havre Aubert

My dear Lucie,

When I moved to the Islands - it'll soon be some three years ago now - when I first met you over a fresh batch of muffins, on the Chemin du Sable, I lied. I said that my name was Benjamin, but that's not exactly it. I'm called Jasmin. At least, that's how Lionel, my mechanic in Bassin, now calls me. I don't know why. Even his colleague François has a go at it now and then. Maybe they misunderstood me? I'm okay with it. I don't always understand them either. And we don't hold it against each other. I'd even say it adds to the nice little things of everyday life. You know I'd be lying again to say that it bothers me much. From the moment I got here, in October 2015, I told you over and over how I loved to hear the accent, the singing in the questions of the Islanders at the gas station, asking me with new vowels if I wanted a full tank. I was telling you that I would have lied down across the hood of my car and let them talk pretty to me for hours.

L'errance est aussi un pays

Some three years ago soon, that I landed here.

Marlène, the owner of the first house I rented at the Anse-à-la-Cabane, became a dear friend and a fierce partner for many card nights. We play Trou d'cul. Sometimes, she looks at me and drops, somewhere between a question and a statement: "So, you're staying for good, now? You're here for life, right?"

My my... life lasts for a while. What if I wanted to try out other places? I have to say though, the only thing I really miss is you, since you've moved back to the Cantons de l'Est. After all, you were here with me for my grand debut on the Islands. You heard it too, the "well, you must truly like it here, to spend the winter in Havre-Aubert..." Wanting to run in circles in February, heading out of the movies with a craving for French vanilla coffee and long talks, but how could have we - coffee shops not opened 24/7 around here... But we lasted the winter. There is that one restaurant that does stay open late, and we ate our own weight in fries way before the start of lobster season.

Since then, I haven't moved. I'm still here. The winters spent sheltered in our houses, the playing cards, the frightening winds with their strangely heartwarming tune. The clamouring promises of spring through the fog. The summer stillness, the fall always around the corner. Shadows and lights across the hilltops in the late afternoons. It's a collection of journeys, of other places, all close by. It's all waiting to be done. Encounters are on their way. Wonders could come to life at any moment. And if I stop by the gas station, everywhere, always, the same singing tongues. Maybe I've fallen in love. In the end, Jasmin or Benjamin, does it really matter? In the face of all there is to love on the Islands, there's little more to do than to take a vow of humility.

Big hugs.

Par Benjamin Pradet

I was born and raised in Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies and then lived in Montreal for a long time. I came to the Magdalen Islands thinking that I'd try it for a year, during which I found only good reasons to stay, and no reason to leave. Since then, I write my little words, I pace the Chemin des Arpenteurs, and I let life take its course.

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