Quebec Studies

Wednesday's Child: excerpts

Quebec Studies (2002), 33, (1), 167–174.


167 Wednesday's Child: excerpts Rhea Côté Robbins Brewer, Maine Collette et manchettes, 2 cents "BUANDERIE DE FALL RIVER! FALL RIVER LAUNDRY, No. 24, rue Hartwell, Collette et manchettes, 2 cents, pièce tapis battus et nettoyés à la vapeur, 4 cents la verge. Linge lavé, empesé, repassé ou non, au grès des clients. On va chercher sans frais tous les paquets à domicile..." —L'Indépendant, 4ième année, No. 3 Foi, loyauté, progrès, Fall River, Mass, 20 janvier, 1888 Perfect, present, future tense. In French. Everything in French. Even if it is in English, it is still in French. A layer of French living laid over by layers of popular culture or popular culture covered by Uving done in French. Inter­ twined. I wish I had a happier story to tell, but I've made my peace with its ugliness. It is a truthful, unpretty face. I have learned to love the story I hated. One of the deep reverberations that I must reacquaint myself with. Legends. Customs. Recipes. Folktales. Stories. Songs. Futuristic visions. I have visions of perfect, present, future tense. What am I in the future of my Franco-American womaning? Do I learn the language? Do I write my way to freedom? Will I be understood by even myself, I wonder, let alone someone without a cultural blueprint. I am scared. Afraid of the outcome. The judgments. The pronouncements. Some have more of the inner sanctum secret passwords than others. Some have the original recipes. Some can sing. Some know the essence of the moment told in French words. I can hear the heartbeat of Québec. I can hear the St. Lawrence River, lefleuveSt. Laurent running in my bloodstream. I am giant and I have out of the body experi­ ences picking up tankers on the St. Lawrence looking down from the 13th floor of Le Concorde. I eat the soup, bread, plat principal, and desert without a bit of explanation necessary. I climb on my knees the prayer stairs at Ste. Anne de Beaupré. I am close to Jean Côté's grave on l'île d'Orléans. He arrived just yesterday—1600 something. I married the very distant cousin. I eat the soup. I bake the bread. I am a couseuse. I make bold the colors in my house. I get dizzy admiring the roofs in Québec. The colors on the houses leave me breathless. I have been shamed to white, but I vow to return to the palette of true colors. I dream the visions of young women in French. Equanimity in the cultural unearthing of their legacy of the near millennium. Do-it-toyourself archaeology. The cookbook of life rendered for what it is. That which sustains the generations to come. Pride, not shame in the female cook pot. Modern day tapestry of living unparalleled in its boasts. On parle français, ici the commercial advertisements read. Understood, at last. Québec Studies, Volume 33, Spring/Summer 2002

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Author details

Robbins, Rhea