Saturday, February 17, 2007

notes from M.P. (Mystery Place)

Late yesterday, Ed, my fitful traveling companion, packed a backpack, I packed a whole little suitcase and we headed south. (Southwest, if you want to be precise.)

I have been working hard on convincing him to break away with me sometime this winter and this is as close as we got to an agreement. In March and April, we’re traveling in quite opposite directions, but this February week-end, we are both turned southwards! (Southwest. Have to be precise here.)

Last year, we were more ambitious. Far, far into the northeastern provinces of Canada, right into the frosty climate of Quebec we went. Splendid!

This year, we are more tame. We’re staying in a cottage – here, this is it:

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…right at the edge of this town:

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They say it’s almost European. Sort of. M.P. (Mystery Place) has the markings of a small English village – the stone houses, places once inhabited by miners who came here in droves many many decades ago…

And here: this cafĂ© with very excellent coffee… it’s quite European, isn’t it?

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Possibly not. European cafes give you choice. You want something spirited? Fine. You want a warm soup? Cheeses? Pastries? It’s here for you, daily. Fresh and honest. Our coffee shops in the States tend to sell, well, coffee. This one also has nice jewelry. A dead giveaway that I did not travel beyond the borders of this country.

And the High Street is quiet. It needs a bakery or two, a grocer maybe? Commerce that will breathe life into the blocks of stone houses. No, no more gift shops, no more antique places, no, please no. Give us a reason to stroll here, tempt us, lure us with something credible.

Idle thoughts. Fact is, this is one of the region’s nicest – a town with a deep history (and you can feel it, right here on High Street), with a great bed and breakfast, a fine brewery (actually, the bed and breakfast and the brewery are one and the same), and don’t forget the landscape – hills and vales. Snow-covered now. As I said yesterday, not south enough. Not beach weather here. No, we’re out and about, spending the most beautiful week-end of the winter doing this:

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Amidst these scenes:

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Down these trails:

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Splendid cross country skiing terrain. And sunshine. A real southern getaway to M.P.