Wednesday 5 September 2012--Gray morning, becoming more and more dismal as the day goes on. I blame the Péquistes. It might seem an end to my
Madelinot idyll, but I'm not really too bothered. I spent my first two days here in rush mode, trying to go everywhere and see everything. Since
my stay on Entry Island, I've been feeling more attuned to the relaxed pace that is much more the norm in places like this. I've had similar experience
in the Scottish islands.
Spend the morning poking into all the shops along La Grave. Some are art and craft galleries, with unique and interesting items offered; a few are souvenir and t-shirt shops. Postcards are oddly scarce. I have a bowl of soup at the Café. The increasingly dreary afternoon calls for a museum visit.
The Musée de la Mer sits on the headland at the other end of La Grave. It was the project of Frédéric Landry, a local man with a passion for the history of the Magdalens. He served as director from the museum's founding in 1969 to his retirement in 2001. The main permanent exhibit is titled Laboureurs du Golfe, and comprises artifacts of those who have made their living from the surrounding sea, interpreted in both French and English. There are fishing dories, model ships, bits of maritime equipment, photos of shipwrecks, even a walrus skull. I note an old map with all of the English names. Amherst is there, and I check the others. I've been curious about the locale now known as Pointe aux Loups-- Point of Wolves. There have never been wolves in the isles; loup-marin--sea wolf--is a colloquial term for seal, but that doesn't ring true as an origin for the name. Sure enough, the map shows it as Wolfe Point, named undoubtedly for General James Wolfe, conqueror of Québec. I wonder how many locals are aware of this. [A later conversation with my hosts suggests not many--they seem to have a considerable amount of difficulty digesting this bit of information. The motto on the Québec license plate reads Je Me Souviens, "I remember"... sometimes, perhaps, it's better to forget.]
Outside the museum, overlooking the village, is what appears to be a trebuchet, a sort of medieval catapult. A small sign reveals that's exactly what it is, but doesn't explain why it's there. I don't think La Grave is under siege.
I pick up a couple of t-shirts in one of the shops, and then visit Artisans du Sable, a boutique where Madelinot sand is mixed with some sort of resin, and the resulting material sculpted into a variety of objects. These range considerably in size and complexity, with prices to match. I buy a modest piece, a four-inch square with bare footprints, les pas perdus, trailing across. It seems a very appropriate souvenir. (I wonder if I could get them to do Lewis chessmen.)
Have a spot of apple brandy back in the room, then nap for a bit. Back then to the Café de la Grave, where dinner this evening is the Madelinot specialty pot-en-pot, a seafood casserole en croûte. The Café closes early for the employees' end-of-season party, and I'm left without a place to hang out. The Vent du Large up the street has a terrasse and serves the good beer, but it isn't an evening for sitting out, and the dining room indoors is a bit too formal. I go back to my room and sort through photographs with a dram.