Old St. Vital is a good place to live. Trees, parks, wildlife, lots of space to walk and cycle; rivers and some quite unexpected valleys. It’s peaceful; nothing strange ever happens.
But one day a woman marched into the park; she placed a cardboard box carefully in a particular position, saluted it, and marched away. An empty, unmarked cardboard box.
One afternoon I was sitting on the Seine River bank, when a fellow came by and asked me if I’d seen "the" turtle. He collected reptiles, he said, and he wanted to try to catch one of the painted turtles that live in the river. As it happened, I had seen one, but a while ago, and it had submerged into the muddy depths and was long gone. The man took me to visit his home: among other ordinary animals, he had a pair of iguanas and a teguixen, a very intelligent South American reptile which can grow to three feet, and is ordinarily bad-tempered and aggressive: it will bite, scratch, and lash you with its tail. His wasn’t very big and was quite placid, although I didn’t attempt to handle it. After that, every time I passed the man’s Des Meurons Street residence I noticed the brilliant light coming from his porch, which he used to maintain the proper climate.
And one fabulous day: I was waiting at a traffic light on Rue Archibald, when I observed a guy having a severe attack of bicycle rage. He picked his bike up and threw it down on the ground. He picked it up again and SLAMMED it down. Then he picked it up and thrust it into a nearby bush and stamped away looking grimly satisfied. I looked at the fellow in the car in the next lane, and he looked at me; we smirked at each other and went on our ways as the light changed.
Closer to home, I noticed a neighbour vacuuming his hedge.
And that evening, my brother called, all in a fluster, to tell me that the Moonies had taken over Proctor & Gamble. (The symbol of the Unification Church looked rather like the P & G logo, and quite a number of people came to the same erroneous conclusion. I didn’t give a hoot anyway and I’ve never been sure why he told me. Maybe it was just a day for such things).
Nothing strange happens in old St. Vital; but we do have moments of unusual interest.
Peter Lacey is a community correspondent for St. Vital.