Having been in the thick of it, I had forgotten a lot of the details. Reading how the weather evolved from month to month, from a green Christmas to the repeated onslaughts of March that left us feeling post-traumatic well into summer, brings back a lot of memories.
It’s a real tribute to the Maritime spirit of good humour and making the best of the weather. Stephanie Domet gets a cameo for coining the word – and hashtag – #stormchips. Collections of photos featuring drifted-in doorways, prospecting for cars, and sunbathers in shorts with beer against a snowy background, highlight some themes of that record-breaking winter.
There are serious photos, too: of buckled barns, stuck ships and the plane that slid on its belly when landing in Halifax on March 29.
The pages are filled with full-colour photos taken by Maritimers from all over. I had seen some of them on Facebook or in the newspaper. One of the photos is mine, thanks to this very website. A researcher for the book contacted me and I sent him a high-resolution version. In return, a copy of the book arrived in the mail last month.
Now that summer is over, and the next winter is lurking just around the corner, it’s good to remind ourselves of what stuff we are made, while we brace for hurricane season and the unknown adventures to be had just by living here.
It has been a long, cold, tough winter in Nova Scotia.
But now it’s time to Break the Back of Winter – a warrior’s act of vengeance and liberation. An epic tale of perseverance and cunning.
Our enemy: a treacherous layer of ice up to 2″ (5 cm) thick that invaded everything a couple of months ago, malingering on this shady slope long after fleeing from sunnier areas. If we wait for it to melt, slipping tires and feet will continue to result in casualties on our side. So we must attack.
Our weapons: shovels, scrapers and a teenage warrior wielding a crowbar. Our key ally: the strengthening March sun, as it heats up the black asphalt even when the air temperature remains below freezing. Our strategy: observe and hold back until alternating melts and freezes have detached the ice from the surface. Then study the enemy’s weaknesses and reclaim swaths of territory, chunk by chunk.
Victory is finally ours when our beachheads join and we reclaim safe passage for our troops. Hurrah!
It has been a cold winter, except when it thawed of course, as it usually does once in January before the snow locks us in again.
The snow we had in December, which made us happy at Christmas, had melted completely by January 15, exposing the coldframes and mini hoop houses in my garden.
Peeling off the layers of plastic and row cover on the mini hoop house showed that there was lettuce within, still looking perky after the deep freeze.
No wonder; its name is “Merveille de quatre saisons” – which you could translate as “Four-Season Wonder”.
If you pick your plants well, plant them at the right time, and shelter them adequately, you can indeed eat from the garden year round.
Niki Jabbour, who lives and gardens not far from me, and also has a radio show on gardening, has written a wonderful guide to year-round gardening (left). It is inspiring many people like me to expect more from our gardens.
When the hoops are iced up, however, and the coldframes piled high with snow, I yearn for a greenhouse.
Before the official end of winter yesterday, the snow in the Annapolis Valley and the South Shore had mostly melted. A layer of ice, the remnant of sunny days and cold nights, was the last thing to leave our lawn; it took days to melt.
We enjoyed a March Break trip to the Valley, and waking up to these expansive views.
Late February: the best part of winter. The sun is shining straight through my office window in the semi-basement. How pleasant. Meanwhile, outside, all is white, hard and frozen. Last weekend, a couple of anglers walked about three hundred meters over the frozen sea in front of our house, carrying two chairs, a pack of beer and their fishing rods. They sat there motionless for hours, looking at the hole in the ice they had made for fishing, while drinking beer and having a good chat, I bet. Way to go!
Across from the tidal inlet near our house is a small island which is a symbolic destination for us, depending on the time of year. We celebrate spring, and the ice breaking up, by canoeing to it. In winter, if the ice is thick enough, we walk or skate to it. Today the ice was over 6 inches thick, the required minimum, and we walked there.
With thanks to my Facebook friends for their contributions.
The smooth, quiet brush of fresh snow under your skis.
The way ice breaks and cracks over rocks as the tide falls.
Empty beaches with shimmering vistas.
The mildness, softness and peace a snowfall brings.
Like the folks here, a winter is softness and gentility: quite well mannered, and departs when the welcome is worn.
A crackling fire in a woodstove making heat that penetrates to your bones.
Walking ON the bay in places we usually row, paddle or sail.
Sunlight sparkling off snow-laden branches.
Minas Basin ice shifting, buckling, making strange sculptures on the shore.
Magnificent bald eagles.
Watching the days get longer in the coldest part of the winter.
Shovelling the driveway with a helper who will clear up the last little bits: the sun.
NO mosquitoes, NO blackflies, NO no-see-ums!
The weather changes frequently: it’s fairly mild, and cold snaps are short, warm periods are also short. There’s something for everyone and no time to get bored!
The province is small but has a variety of microclimates. Want more snow? Ski hills are not so far away. Want less snow? Go walk a deserted South Shore beach.
Memories of crazy winter antics performed when we were young and immortal: descending hills at great speed, jumping from one ice floe to another as the frozen ocean broke up (some have memories of being rescued in these situations!), “getting towed on a sled behind my dad’s car on a snow-covered gravel road, riding my bike through the streets of Halifax when the snow wasn’t too bad,” ice boating, skating on thin ice….
Maple syrup made in the woods.
Patterns made by drifting snow.
Winter skies unlike anything you see in the summer.
Eating fresh snow.
Cardinals and purple finches at the feeder.
Getting insight into the life of rabbits from their tracks in the woods.
So there are some of the things we love about winter in Nova Scotia. What are yours? Leave a comment below.
I’m fascinated by the formation of ice and how it interplays with the tides. And it has started again with cold morning temperatures which leave a layer of ice which plays with rocks as the tide goes down. You can hear the cracking as you walk along the shore – just little crick-clicks now, but bigger booms when the ice is thicker.