Oh my god he is the archetypal Canadian; rugged like a lumberjack, made from wool socks, hiking boots and a healthy dose of maple syrup. Here in the 21st century he’s proper scrubbed up, clean cut, waiting on me in those snug black shorts and dimpled smile. They’re out of the beer I want but he suggests I try their amber, which ’comes highly recommended’.
My voice cracks, ’Sure, sounds good’ and I feel a little dizzy as I watch him move towards the bar.
My man is oxen - tall and sturdy, built like a brick. I reckon most of the women coming in here swoon, but I’m not used to this sort of instant attraction. I try to convince myself it’s the way he handles his section. The restaurant’s packed and he’s in total control. Confident, efficient, moving gracefully between tables. He’s got it together. Fine stock, the best. Although admittedly the fact I’m so mesmerised has more to do with his chiseled jawline, delicious lips and firm butt cheeks, than any waiting skills. My god. The imagination swells into overdrive.
Having spent the past two days in the mountain, we’re now in a town called Matane, cushioned against the gaping mouth of the St Laurence River. Yesterday’s excursion to see caribou ended up with us cowered in freezing, wind-swept fog. Up on the tundra you could barely see 20 yards, let alone any wild herds. Definitely epic conditions, at least for the month of August. Today we faired better. Eighteen kilometres of steep climbs and jagged descents, clambering over boulders, making our way through terrain you wouldn’t automatically navigate, but the sun was shining and the scenery striking. To tick more boxes, we also saw a mama-moose and her calf munching just a few yards off the trail and caught a glimpse of the elusive, endangered reindeer, albeit specked quite far in the distance.
So by the time we’re sat in ‘La Fabrique’ I’ve forgotten about the pain and am consumed with a sense of accomplishment. I stare at our waiter and contemplate a move to this lost little part of La Belle Province. Could I hack it? Serving up their micro-brew, they’re definitely what one would define as ‘North American hipsters’, but for some reason they don’t annoy me as much. Maybe it’s cause they’re French-Canadian and actually championing some bonafide culture (or maybe, gulp, it’s cause I might have a speck of the stuff in my veins too).
Then I look at the girls around me. I may have earned my climbing credentials, but the outer-wear was over-sized and borrowed. My short, coloured crop definitely doesn’t fit in either. Not sure I could grow my hair that long or get used to wearing hiking boots 24/7. And as much as I think he’s sexy, I’d probably get bored having to come to the same brasserie every night. Besides, I couldn’t see myself ever getting that excited over 101 beer recipes. Same thing day in day out, same faces, same food, stuck within the same circle of voices … and then I start deliberating the idea of winter, which really sways me. This coast-line freezes - we’re talking salt-water ocean, frozen solid! And that’s for most of the year - summer’s but a wisp, only lasting a couple months. And bar this bar, the only other form of ‘hivernal’ entertainment seems to be bowling and ice-hockey. I mean I know there’s the internet and all but ...
So yep, as much as I’d love to feel those big arms around me, not sure I'm carved from the same stump, clear cut that it is.