Montrealers are proud people. I always suspect that one reason for this is that for all of its attractions, this is not an easy city. I spent much of this past winter on the academic job market, which meant that Graeme and I were constantly dealing with the spectre of moving elsewhere for a job; as we bundled up in parkas and snow boots every day for several months, I was prone to occasionally wondering why on earth we had such angst about leaving Montreal. Why were we so attached to this icy hellhole?
Right now is why. There is just about no other place in the world where I would rather be than Montreal in springtime. After such long winters, spring here is so hopeful, so exciting, that it is hard not to feel revived. Every year the tree in front of our house will bloom overnight, going from thin, bare branches to a festival of pink flowers; usually this is the first sign that spring is indeed here to stay, and not merely a sunny day or two teasing us in between snowstorms. The tree bloomed this past weekend (rather late this year, sadly) and it makes me deeply happy every time I look at it. It will only last for a week or so, but by the time it’s done, the rest of the city will be in full bloom.
This is our first spring with Daisy, our beautiful dog, and because we have to walk her several times a day, I feel like we have been lucky enough to be able to witness how how subtly things change; how our neighbourhood has slowly gone from grey to colourful; how the pond in Parc Lafontaine transformed from skating rink to mudpit to, finally, a pond with quacking ducks in it; how cafes are slowly putting their tables outside, often when it’s still a little bit too chilly to do so, but it doesn’t matter, because people in this city will sit outside as soon as it is humanly possible.
These are the moments when I think that I live in the greatest city in the world. And I think that Daisy agrees.