Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A New Season . . .

For someone like me who didn't really do much vacationing this summer, you'd think that the change of season would be a blip on my radar screen.

On the contrary, this is a chance to get in my car and drive up to New England to see the leaves and pour some maple syrup on blueberry pancakes. OK, there's maple syrup in Maryland. As a matter of fact there are changing leaf colors in Maryland . . . But once a New Englander, always a New Englander.

I'm thinking of buying a little cabin to live in, a cabin in a birch forest, a cabin with indoor plumbing, a cabin near a lake with a canoe with my name on it. My people came from Quebec to live in Rhode Island. Something went wrong. Not a potato famine, not persecution for being Catholic, not a plague of locusts. But something creepy and dark. Take my word for it.

At the New York Public Library many years ago, my Uncle Rollo (actually my great uncle Roland) found some history on our French-Canadian ancestors. Apparently, one of the married "une femme sauvage" or a "wild woman."

Her name was Marie. I guess the Catholics got to her before the foxy Frenchman did. Her full name, according to some geneaology by a long-lost cousin, was Marie Metiomiguok. She was Huron Indian. I guess she was lucky to marry and move away. The Hurons living near Trois Rivieres, not far from Lake Champlain, were decimated in the late 17th century by the Iroquois. What was left of the tribe moved across the water and changed their tribal name.

I'm simplifying things a little. Old habits die hard, as Uncle Rollo used to say. He also said that aging was not for the faint-hearted. So far, true!

But I think about Marie Metiomiguok. I think about leaves falling in Quebec. Maybe Marie feels the autumn chill in the air; maybe she sees brilliant leaves floating free from the birches. Maybe she wonders if anyone will remember her name.