If Xingxing was writing this blog, it would be all about the squirrels. What are these things? Why can't I catch one of them? How do they climb trees? Why can't I climb trees?
Xingxing had never seen a squirrel, before Montreal. But there were two beautiful little parks within a block of our hotel, and the parks were full of trees, and during our morning walk on our first day in Montreal, Xingxing saw his first squirrel. He has long since given up on birds, because he knows he can't fly. And he has also figured out that rabbits are too fast for him. But this slinky-like critter bopping along the lawn was something else.
He almost got one. And then it scuttled up a tree. Xingxing literally couldn't believe his eyes. There was the squirrel, looking down at him and lashing its tail. So near, and yet so tantalizingly out of reach. He looked at me. I shrugged. Xingxing tried to climb the tree. This didn't work. So he backed up and took a running leap at it, just as the squirrel had done. This didn't work, either. Shih Tzus don't climb trees, I told him. He looked at me as if to say, It's not fair.
Montreal is a lovely city, elegant and beautifully kept, like an extremely wealthy, older woman who takes very good care of herself. Everyone speaks French, but most people speak English as well. And everywhere you look there's a church, almost always a Catholic church. 85% of Montreal's population is Catholic, but church-going has dropped off dramatically, so much so that there are no longer enough priests to service all the parishes and some of the churches have been converted into condos. Even so, there are still a lot of churches. Every hour, bells chime. Apparently, Mark Twain once said that if you stood in a Montreal street and threw a stone in any direction, you'd break a church window.
Old and new blend seamlessly in Montreal and the streets are clean and lavishly planted. Lots of trees, lots of parks, lots of flowers. And of course, lots of churches.