Learning in Québec

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I'm someone who began learning French when I was 53. I took a BA in French at 60 but wasn't happy with my level of comprehension (though I read very well). So, having really become comfortable with Spanish only by living on the Mexican border, I'm spending more time in Québec and near the border of Quebec, in Vermont, to see if I can do that here with French. I want to encourage others to do the same.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

On explique ...

Bon jour,

I write from Seguin, Texas, a town whose people do not know that Seguin is a French name but think, since it was named for Juan Seguin, Alamo hero, and his father Erasmo, whose given names sound Spanish, that Seguin is a Spanish name -- though nobody has ever told me of any others of Mexican heritage whom they know with the name Seguin.

I could not see myself taking care of an automobile through the winter. I had a permit to park on the street, une vignette, but all around the neighborhood of my little apartment, in the alleys and yards of even the grandest houses, I saw all sorts of winter arrangements being made for automobiles. Then Jamey, a young man from Burlington who works at one of the wonderful second-hand bookstores on rue St. Jean, told me how the city government asks you to move your car off the street at various bad-weather occasions and that last year a friend of his with a car on the street had to pay for sheltered parking almost every day of January. Then also I read that Quebec law requires that your car be winterized by December 15. It's been too long; I didn't know how to do it.

I didn't want to have a car in Quebec City. It had to do with why I had one in Vermont -- that public transportation does not exist in most of northeast Vermont and in the eastern townships if you're off the beaten track. There is no way by public transportation from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont to Sherbrooke, from which one bus a day goes to Quebec City, or to Montreal, the main hub for Quebec public transportation. I had a car there because there was no other way to get there.

So I drove down through Vermont to New York City to spend election night with my daughter in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and that was appropriate, because she was the first person to tell me that someone named Barack Obama looked good ... and appropriate because the neighborhood was exhuberant with the election victory! Then I used three days to drive to Seguin, Texas (near San Antonio), staying in Obama states as long as I could until finally crossing over into Kentucky at Paducah, which I like, and heading down through Missouri, Arkansas, crossing at Texarkana, thinking of Scott Joplin who was born in Texarkana and how happy he would be for Obama's victory. Our victory. The world's victory. The chance of a chance.

So what I'll do is enter journal entries from earlier days having to do with Quebec City. I'm set to return after the holidays.

Alors, elle me manque, la belle ville, mais je retournerai. (C'est correct?)

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