Pancakes and . . .
The nicest things happen to the nicest people, and I am no exception. Let me tell what happened. . . . According to the sticker on a can of maple syrup, Carmelle & P. M. Bolduc live at 20125 Boul. Lacroix, St. Georges Est. That's in County Beauce, Quebec. There was once a district of Beauce in France, of which Chartres was the capital , and undoubtedly the Canadian name derives from that. But it might be hard, today, to find a Canadian Beauce-man who knows all that much about Mother France. Beauce, the Canadian county, lies next above Maine, and we like to drive up there now and then for a foreign holiday. Chartres was never any more French than St. Georges Est., and while the high cuisine of France is famous, the cookery of French Canada is superb and only three hours away. We stop at a hotel where the proprietor greets us with the assurance our room is ready and that Cecile will again be our waitress. This is certainly as good as any teleprint reservation.
Maple syrup? Think of all the years we made our own and then, having sold the old farm, had to go buy some! Then, when we inaugurated what is now our traditional July Fourth flag-raising and patriotic breakfast, which some 150 people manage to attend at 7:30 a.m., we needed a couple of gallons to celebrate independence properly. The sausages and pancakes are readied over an open fire at our seaside picnic plaza, and nobody has yet held back on the syrup.
There is an interesting geographical situation in our Maine maple syrup business. Every spring when the Maine wilderness roads are choked with snow, Canadians come across the border from Beauce to tap trees in our St. John River Valley. Our timberland owners make a small charge per tap hole, but no other record is kept of this production. The finished syrup moves across the line in 60-gallon steel drums and gets lost in the statistics of the Province of Quebec. Accordingly, if you pause at a roadside stand in that part of Canada and buy a can of maple syrup, the label will say ''Produit de Quebec,'' but the syrup likely came from Maine trees. So for some years now we have picked up our July Fourth syrup during one of our visits to Beauce. The price saves us a little, and then there is the difference of exchange. Besides, the Canadian gallon equals five US quarts.
Which accounts for our being in the dooryard of a neat home at 20125 Boul. Lacroix - attracted by a sign on the lawn offering ''Produits d'erable.'' Mme. Bolduc responded to my tap at her door.
She had a dust cap over some of the curlers in her hair, was wearing a utility housecoat, and held the tube of a snarling vacuum cleaner. We bonjoured and she assured me in a moment I would have her full attention. I wondered, as I waited, why a trim home in a considerable community would be selling maple syrup ''chez nous,'' and I stepped around the shed to see if any maple trees stood out back. When Mme. Bolduc came forth, she was in a dress, had her curlers tucked out of sight, and assured me they did, indeed, make their own syrup from a stand of trees 10 miles out of town. Also, that it was not St. John Valley syrup but, just as it said on the can, a product of Quebec. I introduced her to my bonne femme, we chatted, I put two gallons in the trunk, I paid, we bonjoured again, we drove along. My bonne femme commented that Mme. Bolduc certainly got a big charge out of my attempts at French.
Our room was ready, and after we prettied up we found Cecile waiting for us in the dining room by our corner table. She suggested a potage which she could not translate, but after a visit to the kitchen said it was a cock-a-leekie. That's a McSoupe. Delicious! I felt an arm on my shoulder and turned to find Mme. Bolduc - hair upswept, dimrled, and earringed, gowned a la WOW! and presenting her husband. Just by chance.
We dined, and we think things may work out. Canada's equivalent of our Fourth , Dominion Day, comes on the first, celebrated this year on the second. Makes a double holiday. The Bolducs think they can manage to come and see what we do with two imperial gallons of their sirop d'erable. Won't that be nice?