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The Legend

The Outsider

Oats, honey and rosemary soap

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Fans of Québec folklore know the legend of Le Survenant, the mysterious man who arrives in the village of Chenal du Moine, but very few are familiar with this legend of another outlander.

La Survenante was an ageless woman with a faraway look. She was always on the move, traveling back and forth between the village of Foster and Orford, by road and through forest, but always along the power line. On this perpetual pilgrimage – for which some called her the Goddess of the Roads – she accepted a meal here or a warm blanket and the corner of a couch or a spot on the floor there. She wasn’t concerned with comfort. In exchange, she would offer her protection, or at any rate that of her current deity.

One day, she ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. At least, that is how it seemed. She knocked at a door just as a young woman was giving birth to her first child. It was stillborn. In the tumult, the family quickly forgot about their quietly observing visitor. She drew raspberry and oats from her pouch and prepared a piping hot infusion sweetened with honey. Moving forward, her eyes filled with compassion, she offered it to the woman.

On the following days, she returned to see the young couple and prepared her honey tea. Quickly enough, the husband realized the Outlander had a calming effect on his wife. One morning, she presented a bouquet of fresh-picked rosemary to the young woman, who, with a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye, announced that she was once again pregnant. The Outlander purified the room with the bouquet for good luck.

Every day of the pregnancy, the Outlander visited the mother and her growing foetus. When the time finally came, the baby was again a breach. Everyone feared a repeat tragedy. Then, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, the Outlander went to the mother and manoeuvred the baby so that it could be born. Soon the demanding cries of a baby boy filled the room.

No one said a word, but each secretly wondered how many other hidden talents the wise woman possessed.

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