The Legendary Winter that Was

The Maritimes had a winter like no other. Prince Edward Island had a record-breaking total snowfall of 549.6 cm, which works out to about 18 ft of snow (to date). Fortunately it didn’t fall all at once. Thanks to social media, images of people tunnelling through snowbanks to look for their cars, and Good Samaritans sculpting Grand Canyons so that neighbours could leave their homes, became etched into the popular consciousness.

backhoe
March 20, moving a lot of fluffy white stuff.

The volume of snow we got here on the South Shore of Nova Scotia wouldn’t faze Northern New Brunswick, but the fact is that we don’t have enough of the heavy equipment needed to handle it around here, as the amount was highly unusual. The usual driveway-clearing equipment, trucks with plows bolted on, were breaking down, and the big backhoes required to liberate some homes were charging $175 per driveway two days after the big storm of March 18. If I were in the snow clearing business, I’d be wondering whether this winter was a harbinger of more climate chaos and if I should invest in heavier equipment.

Many barns around the province caved in, and nurseries lost greenhouses, which are usually uninsurable.

As well as financially and physically, the winter was hard on many people psychologically. The storms came twice a week during a period that some called March Madness, and at times it felt like being bludgeoned repeatedly with a pool noodle reinforced with a hockey stick. There was Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse and many unnamed storms which continued well into April.

I emerged from the winter with newfound upper body and core strength, and was grateful for my teenaged son who is looking buff these days.

Here are some photos from the winter that was.

 

The big storm

The February 15-16 storm that completely buried cars in Prince Edward Island continues to make life difficult for Nova Scotians more than a week later. Tall snowbanks make driving and walking difficult and dangerous, especially in the towns. Elsewhere, snowshoes are the vehicle of choice. Clogged or hidden storm sewers result in flooding when it’s warm(ish) and thick ice when it’s cold, especially in Halifax.  Around Mahone Bay, people have been removing snow from roofs and decks to mitigate damage and leaks, especially whenever rain threatens. What a winter!

Segway PT tours coming to Oak Island!

Wynand and Max segwaying their way down the road from the causeway to Oak Island
Wynand and Max segwaying their way down the road from the causeway to Oak Island

It’s an unusual site almost anywhere.

When we spotted two Segway PTs on the road to Oak Island, dodging the dodgy potholes, we had to find out what’s going on.

It was Wynand “Dutch” Baerken who runs the Kayak Shack over at the Atlantica Hotel and Marina Oak Island, and Max from Segway Nova Scotia.

Wynand was sporting the sleek street Segway model while Max was roadtesting the fat-tired all-terrain version, complete with racey fenders. The knobby tires give an advantage on rough roads, but there’s a sacrifice in range compared to the street model of these electric-powered standup vehicles.

Heather on a Segway in 2005

I tried out a Segway some years ago in PEI (left). While it was fun, I wondered where it would find its market. It’s slower than a bicycle and faster than walking, and usually I want the exercise.

Wynand pointed out that he goes back and forth between the Kayak Shack and the Hotel many times a day, and a Segway would be more convenient than a bicycle and save walking time.

Large airports and warehouses are other places where a Segway doesn’t go fast enough to cause accidents but can increase efficiency.

Furthermore, you can wear it with anything, though high heels might handicap your ability to maneuver it.

The Kayak Shack will be offering guided Segway tours this summer! From the hotel, which overlooks Oak Island, the rail trail leads nicely to Crandall Road which is 1.4 km long and ends at the Oak Island causeway. Tours of Oak Island itself may happen, but the view at the causeway provides a great destination itself.

So I expect to see groups of these quiet vehicles humming down our road this summer. They’re quiet enough that you can have a conversation, so we’ll hear the voices before we hear the hum.

Here’s a little video illustrating that effect. You can even hear the birds!

 

“There’s lots of room here to be different”

Talking to people who are drawn to live on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, I find it interesting to learn about what attracts them here.

Living in Nova Scotia is a choice, whether you come from “away” or  have your roots in the province.

I often buy meat from Kevin Veinot at local farmers’ markets. His farm has been in his family for seven generations. Yet he too has made a conscious choice to live here, and to farm sustainably.

As he says in this video, “There’s lots of room here to be different.”

Rissers Beach Sand Castle Competition

The 12th annual Sand Castle Competition was held on a perfect sunny day, July 14, 2012.  Here are photos of some of the entries. The winners were the giant lobster and the pyramids.