This is my general-purpose website. (About me. The king of the elves is what my name means in Welsh.) At the moment I am not posting regularly here, but I will revamp this page as needed and add new content from time to time. Click here to subscribe to this blog's feed.
I have two other active sites, one about food (go here) and the other about running (here). I may well create additional pages as the need arises, so check whichever ones interest you.
We hiked around a bald eagle sanctuary over the weekend. We may have spied one overhead (it could glide across the sky without moving its wings) unless it was an ordinary hawk. The woods were sleepy and punctuated by holly trees.
I would like to recommend the BBC documentary Yellowstone: Battle for Life. While I enjoyed the Earth series, it seemed like more of a show-off piece than a coherent presentation; they moved from one animal to the next based on loose themes like "caves" or "deep oceans" without linking together the properties of any location or ecosystem. Yellowstone uses the same filming techniques as Earth to tell the complete story of a particular place. Its organizing principle is simple enough: Part one, "winter," shows us the animals of Yellowstone frozen in the elements, in a tableau that looks like it hasn't changed in thousands of years. We see wolves hunting caribou, bison on a migration, white rabbits running across the snow. We are not told until much later that the timelessness is deceptive, as wolves were only reintroduced into Yellowstone about a decade ago. Nor do we see evidence of any human presence: We are presented with the ideal of Yellowstone untouched.
In part 2, "summer," we cycle through the mating rituals and life cycles of all the important animals that live in Yellowstone. We even learn about some of the plants, such as the pine trees that disperse their seeds using a particular bird that hides thousands every year and remembers 75 percent of them. Part 3, "autumn," begins with the elk mating ceremonies, and then opens up the setting so that we finally see the human landscape outside of the wilderness. These are the farms where the elk wander in the winter, and the prairies where ranchers face down the wolves. We are introduced to the fragility of a place that the beginning of the series implied we could take for granted. This message, while not original to nature shows, is delivered organically and with a minimal amount of didacticism. It is well-written, well-filmed, and above all, well-edited.
Here we return to the beginning of the bike trail at Atwater Market.
The vast covered marketplaces, found throughout the city, provide vegetables along with lobster, duck, pastries, cheese. I read that in Quebec, fresh tomatoes are not available until August. Cooking in the far north is not for the faint of heart.
The historic diversity of the immigrants leads to many kinds of fine dining, especially from European countries. But the continental ambiance of a restaurant is betrayed when you begin ordering food and realize you are still deep inside North America. The clue is in the portions, which can be enormous -- fit only for someplace with relentless winters where you need food to get warm. There is a lot of game, and notably deer. You can find deer tartar with berries.
At a Portuguese "tapas" restaurant, I once made the mistake of ordering an Alberta bison rib. (Braised in a maple syrup sauce.) Though listed and priced as a tapa, it was more than
enough to be a meal of its own. A few days later, we found another restaurant with tapas. For the second time I ordered a bison rib, but only after being assured that it was a
"small" portion. Once again, it was enough for a feast. They seem not
to value their beef very much, or else they find it healthy to eat a
lot of it.
Return downhill and you reach downtown Montreal, where the office buildings transition seamlessly into a network of underground shops. Subterranean Montreal is one of the biggest underground cities anywhere.
Typical urban Canada.
On the McGill University campus, you enter an oasis where everyone speaks English. It was student orientation, and the volunteers were telling jokes using the self-deprecating humor of the northern latitudes. Then I left, back to the cosmopolitan Francophone world.