Beautiful nature, amazing food, and squirrel hijinks


Today was a beautiful day! Perfect temperatures, and lots of time in parks.

I started out at the park just a few blocks away from my hosts: Parc Ecologique de la Coulee. (I just learned that Coulee—as in “Grand Coulee Dam”—is a French Canadian word meaning “ravine.” Sure enough, there was a beautiful ravine in this park.) The park was a wonderful sanctuary: basically just lots of woods, but with wide bikeable gravel paths throughout.

On one edge of the park, it opened up into a sunny green field. From the sign there, I learned another new word: “dameuse” = snowplow.

After sitting on various benches in this park for more than an hour (heavenly!) I decided to head out to the adjoining suburb of Mascouche to try a vegan restaurant called Le Maskwa. (I didn’t think that looked like a French word. I looked it up, and sure enough, “maskwa” is a Cree word, for bear.)

There was a wonderful car-free bike path for much of the distance to the restaurant, which I am finding a lot around Montreal. Unfortunately, as in so many other metro areas, this wonderful infrastructure is often juxtaposed with roads that feel much less safe and welcoming for bikes. I appreciate the pathways whenever I do find them.

The food at this restaurant was superb! Wow. I got the “Le Sicilien” sandwich, which was full of perfectly marinated vegetables. For dessert, I tried a cookie unlike any I’ve ever had: a large, pillowy chocolate-chocolate chip cookie with Speculoos crème inside, and topped with a half Speculoos cookie. After this meal, I was full for many hours afterward. I wish I were here longer, so I could go back and try more things!

Thus fortified, I made my way to another beautiful park in Mascouche, which contained several ponds. On the way, though, I stopped at a supermarket for a few items. One such item was a candy bar for later.

When I arrived at the park and sat on a shady bench to enjoy the pond view, pretty soon I saw one of this area’s beautiful black squirrels. I was enchanted… but before long, this squirrel proved to be another aggressive one. It hopped up onto my bike, somehow sensing that within the bag that hung from the handlebars, there was a sweet treat to be found.

With a gust of wind, the bike tipped over! The squirrel (and a nearby duck) initially scurried away… but not for long. The squirrel returned and ventured into the bag, quickly grabbing the candy (still in its sealed plastic wrapper) and beginning to carry it away in its arms!

I put a stop to this, retrieving the item from the squirrel’s hands, but not surprisingly, the squirrel was not happy with this, and proceeded to jump up onto the park bench next to me over and over again, approaching with a determined look in its eye.

Sorry, squirrel. That marzipan Ritter Sport is mine.

I felt it was time to move on after that, so I set a course back to the house, but not before stopping in the old-town area of Terrebonne, with the beautiful parks I had seen on my way in last night. I got a picture of the dam with the water rushing through it.

When I arrived back at the house, Mathilde was making a vegan dinner of homemade falafel, rice, and salad with lettuce from their garden. We all had a lovely dinner, talking about our various travels.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to Montreal to meet my new host, Linda, and also hopefully meet up with another acquaintance I first met years ago, on another continent.

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