And You Thought Your Garden Was Hard to Maintain: Mosaïculture and Garden of Lights

mosaiculture woman bird

Wow, just wow. I had heard from several people that I really ought to visit Mosaïculture (a.k.a. freakin’ awesome–in the actual sense of the word–plant sculptures) at the Botanic Gardens. And one by one, my friends were peppering their Facebook feeds with photos from the exhibition. I had decided a month or two back that it was something I would like to make time for. And then some of my students told me it was an absolute must-see.  They also suggested we wait to go with my parents, because they knew it was something everyone would enjoy. After that conversation, it was settled. (Proof that you need not be fluent in a language to be convincing while speaking it).

I checked the schedule on the website. Mosaïculture overlapped with the Jardin en Lumière (Garden of Lights) by two weeks. And then we realized that my parents’ visit would fall into these two weeks. After convincing Jordan that this was something I needed to see, I checked with my parents to see if they’d be interested. As luck would have it, everyone was in….and I didn’t even have to twist any arms too hard.

In true parent fashion, my ‘rents ended up paying for our way in. Bless them. I think this was one of their favorite outings while visiting us in Montreal, but it’s also been one of my highlights during the last 14 months. As I said, I had seen a few glimpses of Mosaïculture, and Jordan and I went to the Botanic Gardens last year for the lanterns, but I was nonetheless blown away. Truthfully, I felt like a child, wandering from magical construction to magical construction. At four different points, I figured that I must be looking at the prize jewel of the exhibition, only to see it outdone by another plant sculpture. I think I began to understand just a tiny bit about what Alice might have felt in Wonderland.

As for the lanterns, I again enjoyed them, but it was simply too crowded. We had to slowly mosey along, stopping when the crowd stopped, moving when the crowd moved. It was still pretty, still interesting, and good for eavesdropping practicing my French comprehension in a crowd. I think that last year, the lanterns seemed really impressive to me, but after walking around the grounds and taking in the sculptures, it was hard to impress.

Have a scroll through the photos and be sure to let me know which one is your favorite!

mosaiculture lemurs

Hey, that’s us!

mosaiculture

mosaiculture

mosaiculture

Hey, those are my parents! With sheep, hehe.

mosaiculture

mosaiculture the man who planted trees

mosaiculture the man who planted trees

mosaiculture shaggy dog

mosaiculture butterfly

mosaiculture frog 1

mosaiculture frog 2

mosaiculture piano

mosaiculture moose

mosaiculture easter island

mosaiculture ester island 2

mosaiculture pond

mosaiculture snake

mosaiculture horses

mosaiculture

mosaiculture woman waterfall

mosaiculture

Still making that same awkward camera face…

mosaiculture

mosaiculture

mosaiculture apes monkeys

mosaiculture ducks

I heard people exclaiming, “Il y en a des vrais aussi !

mosaiculture water tap

mosaiculture

mosaiculture flowers

And the showstopper:

mosaiculture bird tree

mosaiculture bird tree

mosaiculture bird tree

mosaiculture alligator

mosaiculture bird tree

And then night fell. Well, first we drank some mediocre coffee and hot chocolate in the garden cafe. Then night fell.

garden of lights

garden of lights

garden of lights

garden of lights

garden of lights

garden of lights

garden of lights

garden of lights

garden of lights

garden of lights

garden of lights

And finally, in the Japanese gardens, an impressionism garden. Oh, wait, no, I was just to lazy to pull out a tripod and decided this was good enough.

garden of lights

Thanks, friends and students, for the suggestion. Thanks, parents, for the outing. Thanks, readers, for the coup d’oeil.

 

A Fall Visit to Abbaye Saint-Benoît-du-Lac (With Suggested Fall Recipes for Your Loot!)

abbaye saint-benoit-du-lac

Time has flown. My parents were just here visiting….and then they weren’t.  And now a couple weeks have passed since they arrived, and I am just beginning to finish the sorting of photos.  Although there was some down time during the visit, we did manage to squeeze in a few nice outings.  During my weekday off, we took advantage of their vehicle (they drove all the way!) and fled to the countryside in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.  I’d been (strongly) hinting that I might like to flee the island, and they were nice enough to oblige.  Thanks to a suggestion from a friend, we headed toward the Vermont border (mais on est resté au Québec, bien sûr !) to the Abbaye Saint-Benoît-du-Lac.

This was my first visit to a monastery of any sort.  Obviously the trip to the countryside, the apple-picking, abbey-produced cheeses, honeys, and apple products served as our main motivation for the jaunt to Austin, Quebec, but I must admit that I was drawn to the idea of the monastery as well.  When there, your access to monks will be limited, since you’re “respecting their solitude.” It would have been more interesting to receive a tour of the grounds, seeing the holy bees and cows that produce the goods. But alas, I was content to snap photos of the grounds we could see, make some purchases in the store, and read up on the history  of Saint Benedict (Benoît) and the monastery. The visit itself is free, but do bring some money for the shop.  (Men under 35, you can stay for free on the grounds, signing up for up to a month as an intern monk, if wanting to deepen your faith).

Upon arrival, we drove up to the edge of the orchards (pick-your-own available on the weekends), and listened a bit to a man practicing his trumpet, which rang out into the crisp fall air. The acoustics were perfect and set the stage for the visit.

abbaye saint benoit du lac

abbaye saint benoit du lac trumpet player

abbaye saint benoit du lac sign for tower

abbaye saint benoit du lac tour st benoit

abbaye saint benoit du lac tiles

abbaye saint benoit du lac

abbaye saint benoit du lac

abbaye saint benoit du lac

abbaye saint benoit du lac lobby

abbaye saint benoit du lac hallway

abbaye saint benoit du lac hallway

abbaye saint benoit du lac

abbaye saint benoit du lac

After you visit and make your purchases, return home. Enjoy those purchases. Put them to the best possible uses.

I milled it over for a while.  When we returned to Montreal, I was equipped with outstanding bleu cheese, a strong white cheddar, freshly-gathered apples, forest honey, and some fontina cheese.  The fontina is described as a creamy, slightly-smoked, Gouda-like cheese.

apples

apple and cheddar

Upon much reflection, I decided to make some scones to highlight my quality, Quebec-made ingredients. The scone recipe was pilfered from Smitten Kitchen, although I jazzed up my egg wash, kept the skin on some of my apple chunks, and put a few extra pinches of cheddar in for good measure.  I had made some slow-cooker apple butter before my parents’ arrival, and it seemed like the obvious accompaniment.

apple cheddar scone with apple butter

As for my second abbey-themed recipe, I kept things closer to their original form and made a spinach salad. Although Popeye was brought up at the mention of spinach, I’d say it went over quite well. So, without further adieu, the recipe. I think you might enjoy the name.

Saint Benoît Autumn Salad (Serves 4)

st benoit salad

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 [St Benoît] apples of your choice (cored and chopped, no need to peel…and okay, they don’t have to come from the abbey)
  • 1/2 crushed walnuts
  • 3 oz [St-Benoît] blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped

Honey-Mustard Dressing:

  • 2 T EV Olive Oil
  • 1 T whole grain mustard
  • 1 T [St Benoît] honey
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Are there any other must-try recipes you suggest? Believe me, I am open to all fall-themed suggestions!

Have a great Monday 🙂

st benoit du lac