Friday, 30 November 2007

Christmas, Stuart Robertson's New Book, and Dépanneurs

Mary, the post mistress at the Canada Post outlet in Mile End, was putting cardboard boxes together when I went by the other day. The little post office is in the Delphi, her family’s stationery store/newstand/dépanneur, the Quebec name for convenience store. (To be “en panne” is to be stopped by some small problem, so dépanneur means the place where your little problems are solved. It's sometimes shortened to "dep" by Anglophones, another measure of how languages shift when they live side by side.) She’s a small, lively woman with sparkling black eyes who keeps everything humming along efficiently.

“Lots of people bring everything in and wrap their parcels here,” she says, wielding one of those things that dispense transparent packing tape. “It’s a lot easier if things are all ready for them.”

“Christmas?” I asked.

“Christmas,” she chortled. “Have you got everything ready yet?”

Silly question, but it made me realize that I’m going to have to start giving the holiday some thought. The only thing I know for sure is that there are several people around who would love to receive Stuart Robertson’s new book Organic Gardening (Véhicule Press.)

Stuart has had a column in the Montreal Gazette for years, and for much of that time has also been a combination traffic, gardening and environment reporter for CBC 1 here. The book is his first one---another on container gardening is due out next spring—and by all accounts it is both informative and fun to read.

By the way, when I asked Mary, she said she was “about half ready” for Christmas. Now, that’s a woman who does it right.

For more about the Delphi, see Marian Ackerman’s story about Mile-End in last weekend's Gazette.

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