Quebec City: House Sitting

The folk song “Land of the Silver Birch,” which originated with a poem from First Nation’s Pauline Johnson, resonates with all who love nature. To visit Canada is to experience nature in its truest grandeur.

“Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver.
Where still the mighty moose wanders at will.
Blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more.
Boom diddy-ah da, boom diddy-ah da, boom diddy-ah da, ehaaa.”

About Quebec City

Canada’s Quebec City is the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico. It has 4.6 km of ancient walls to explore. In addition, one may visit the Plains of Abraham where, during the 1759 battle of the Seven-Years’ War, French troops surrendered Quebec to the British. The battle, known in United States as the French and Indian War, resulted in the increased confidence of the British colonist in America, thus leading indirectly to the American Revolution.

Quebec City

Eighteen Degrees Below Zero in Old Quebec City


Old Quebec City itself is the perfect winter travel destination and a delight to wander through, visiting beautiful sites such as the gorgeous Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral, the oldest holy see in the Americas north of Mexico and watching the citizens, all bundled up and cozy, as they ice skate to Christmas music under the softly glittering lights of the Palais Montcalm. In addition, one can visit  hundreds of tiny boutiques filled with a fascinating array of Canadian items that are not available in the southern United States. One could spend many days and still be unable to see all that Quebec City has to offer. However, after only a short visit, it would be difficult to deny that what was once known as New France is still alive, as the conversations most often heard on the streets are conducted in French. Old Quebec City has a old-world charm seldom seen in the 21st century. If you visit, be prepared to leave a little bit of your heart behind.

It was a cold December day when I arrived at my pet and house sitting position. Settling myself in and becoming acquainted with my hostess and her “babies” took only a short time, as she was congenial and welcoming, making me feel at home immediately. Her pets were two Himalayan cats, Ananda and Bodhi, both of whom indicated to me immediately that their trust would not be given freely. It would be necessary for me to earn it, they let me know with a swish of their elegant feathery tails. As I have always felt more comfortable around animals and children than adults, it was only a few moments before Bodhi recognized a gentle spirit and changed his mind. Soon, he was cuddled up beside me. My charms, however, proved more illusive for Ananda.


Queen Ananda

Queen Ananda


My hostess had only been gone on her long anticipated vacation to the Dominican Republic for twenty-four hours when I awakened to find Bodhi asleep on the covers. I poured myself a cup of coffee, peeked out the window at my snow-covered world and opened my laptop to read the news.  “Winnipeg Has Colder Temperatures Than the Planet Mars!” the online Canadian Yahoo website had plastered in gigantic letters across their headlines.  Now during my experience as an educator in Montana, it was not unusual at all for me to shovel snow from my driveway. I was very comfortable in cold weather. However, as the next few days reached as low as -18 and it became dangerous to wander around the streets of Quebec City, it occurred to me that circumstances must be used to one’s advantage. So, as the snowstorm Hercules raged angrily across the Northeastern United States and Ananda glared at me as though I were a Rottweiler ready to pounce, Bodhi and I settled in and worked steadily on the one task my daughter had assigned me. As a result, my personal travel blog, A Pilgrim’s Parable, became a reality.

Quebec City

Winter Scene in Old Quebec City


In the last few days of my house sitting experience in Canada Ananda began to reconsider our relationship. She decided that under the circumstances, since she had not seen her owner for almost two weeks, that she and I would be on speaking terms. Did we ever become friends? No! Some things are just not written in the stars. After all, she had been the queen of the household for seven years before the upstart Bodhi interfered in her life nine months ago. She is just now allowing him to drink out of her water bowl. So, let us say that she and I developed a mutual respect. After all, queens are allowed to have their idiosyncrasies and lesser mortals such as I must accept that fact.

Update: The home owner returned from her trip, and I patiently awaited the taxi to take me to the airport. Ananda was curled up in her owner’s lap at the dining room table. Suddenly, she gracefully arose and gave her “mother” what was considered to be a kiss. Then she pattered across the table, placed her fuzzy little nose up to mine, and awarded me with the “kiss” also. I had been forgiven for the fact that she had spent two entire weeks without her beloved owner.


Quebec City


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