Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Quebec

Ghosts of Gray Rocks and Britten’s Music

One of the many benefits for an aging runner is to return to locations you love and see them afresh on foot, explore the new path and revisit the old. There are times when revisiting the old escalates to a sad good-bye. So it was with the Gray Rocks Inn.


Summer view of Gray Rocks Inn on Lac Quimet. credit:

Located in the Laurentian region of Quebec, the inn closed in 2009 and the property deteriorated for several years. In its time, Gray Rocks was a forerunner of the active lifestyle – golf, tennis, swimming in beautiful Lac Quimet, horseback riding on mountain trails, paths that took a hiker away from any sounds but those of the forest, and of course, skiing, the first ski resort in the Laurentians. After a day outdoors, guests enjoyed a formal but leisurely dinner of regional and French cuisine.

A few days ago, the aging buildings of a shuttered inn burned to the ground. Everyone locally had memories of staying or working at Gray Rocks and my memories of several summer visits decades back came flooding in.

Of the many commentaries and memories posted online, I was most captivated by a CBC post. I learned that composer Benjamin Britten had stayed in one of the Gray Rocks cabins, preceding my family’s visit by some 40 or 50 years.

Included in the CBC post is some wonderful historical information on Britten’s Gray Rocks Stay. Reading through Britten’s letters, his description of this beautiful region remains true. Amid the additional traffic, newer resorts, Ironman events, and endless condos, the underlying beauty and atmosphere of this Laurentian hideaway is unchanged.images-1

I found the perfect antidote to sadness over the passing of a time and loss of a gem in listening to Britten’s composition, a Ceremony of Carols, appropriate for this time of year or anytime. Give a listen through the link at the bottom of the CBC article (Video: A Ceremony of Carols). Simply, it is uplifting. When I hear Britten compositions in the future, wherever I may be, my mind will be traveling to the wonderful Laurentians and the Gray Rocks Inn as he would have seen it.







Travel Theme: Pathways


Parc Linéaire Le P’tit Train du Nord

A road trip mixing business and recreation brought interesting scenery and a desire to get back into the run.  A post by fellow blogger Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack led me to think of  the trip as a pathway to travel and also a pathway to full-blown running in recovery.


After leaving Ontario by crossing the  Ottawa River on the ferry, I’m soon into the Quebec countryside.

Exiting the four-lane highway, there are signs of fresh crops and late Spring.  The farms along this route provide wonderful scenery and grow healthy food, reminding me that the areas farmers markets will soon be opening.

Ferme la Macédoine

Ferme la Macédoine  The link has several photos of additional asparagus sculptures.

I first pass an asparagus farm, then come upon beef cattle grazing in the pasture of an organic farm  I make a mental note to stop in if and when I’m this way again.

Ferme Picardier

Ferme Picardier also has chickens and sells many organically grown items

The route through the countryside and small towns brought me to my destination. I made a beeline to the out of doors as soon as my appointed duties were taken care of.  The region is awash with cyclists.  After a few adjustments with some help from the friendly folks at Jo Velo, I joined the frey. After several days of cycling and walking, I concluded it was time to return to running.  Not the walk, then run a half mile, then walk again I was using to dip my toes back into running.  No, I had been gently easing my legs and recovering joint back into the rhythm of the run. Swimming and cycling had been reasonable alternatives to stay active, but avoid impact.  

Now I was ready, a little frightened but clearly ready. A positive email from my running friend Patty was the final trigger I needed to get back out there. Waiting for me was a nearby pathway with a relatively smooth surface and a sandy soil base, perfect for a debut post-injury run.

My last real run had been on a cold February day, logging ten miles at marathon pace, bookended by a combined three miles of warm-up and cool-down. This day’s return to my post-recovery running premier was four miles, and nowhere near marathon pace. It was the beginning of a journey from where I am today.  A slow but sure return is the route I’m taking, and I chose just the right pathway.

What is your pathway for the next scary step in your life?

What is waiting around the bend for you?

What is waiting around the bend for you?