By Alyssa Campbell
Dear Parc de la Fontaine,
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I would let you know what you have meant to me these past few months. Since I first laid my eyes upon you that first day I spent in the city of Montreal, we’ve been intertwined in an inexorable love affair. Belongings in tow upon my back, the heat of the August sun beating down upon my skin, dazed by my new surroundings and exhausted from wandering the streets with no apartment yet to call home, I pondered where to go where in a city I did not yet know.
The luckiest glance I ever did have, there you appeared atop the hill, luring me with your lush emerald glow. Like an oasis in the Sahara, I made my way towards you and found refuge in your soft blades of grass. I watched the hundreds of passersby, young and old alike, jogging, roller blading, bicycling – strangers full of life, all potential future friends. I looked out at the colorful stone triplexes with their elegant iron staircases that aligned your edges, at the fountain from which you got your name, the birds swimming in your lake, the squirrels climbing your trees and chasing after acorns tossed by children and old men. You were absolutely magical. Without a map I wondered if I would stumble upon you again.
Little did I know, over the next six months, I would move between three apartments, each time a step closer to you. Nearly every morning I have jogged on your pathways dodging the herds of squirrels that persist, even in the snow. I have been comforted in the evenings by the reflection of the moon over your lake, and as winter came, by the lights that adorn the branches of your trees. In this ever-changing urban landscape where people come and go from your life, you have been my one confidant.
I have watched you change through the seasons. From the irresistible green in the late summer with people picnicking upon your hills, to the bright autumn leaves you shed in November, to the snow you greet with cheer come December. You are always full of life. As I watch parents teach their toddlers how to ice skate upon your now frozen pond, I know that while you have changed and the fountain I first came upon is no more, at core you remain the same. With the inevitable passing of seasons, you meet change with an incredible vitality, allowing life to unfold freely in unpredictable and beautiful forms.
I may come to see you less than before due to the -38 degrees outside, but I haven’t forgotten you. I can’t wait to meet you in the springtime as people once again lay in the sun upon your hills while the city is reborn around you. Until then, I will be eating the best poutine in Montreal just a block away.
Alas, I can never seem to stray too far…