Deep Freeze: Book about Winter 2015

This new book, Deep Freeze Winter 2015: A Photographic Memory of Storm, Survival and Triumph will make you feel like a hero for having survived the winter of 2015 in the Maritimes.

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.

shoveller on roof with snow in the air against a blue sky
My photo in the book: shovelling off the roof in March 2015

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.

Deep Freeze Winter 2015: A Photographic Memory of Storm, Survival and Triumph by John MacIntyre, forward by Cindy Day, MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc., 2015.

Breaking the Back of Winter

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.

winter1

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.

winter2

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!

winter3

Winter lockdown, winter gardening

Icy inlet
Dawn on January 24, 2014, near Western Shore

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.

garden in January
Jan. 15: Coldframes, hardy strawberry plants toughing it out, and double-covered greens

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.

lettuce in January
Lettuce  ‘Merveille de quatre saisons’

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.

 

 

Helicopter Blows Deer to Safety on Ice-Covered Antigonish Harbour

The ice was thin and very slippery. Retired biologist Ian Waugh spotted the deer in trouble. He called the Department of Natural Resources.

There was no chance of anyone going out on the thin ice to help the deer. So DNR sent a helicopter. Look how close to the deer the pilot is flying to give it the maximum downdraft effect from the propeller blades.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccqfe7vrGuA

An informative news report on the story is here on CTV.ca.

The end of winter, Annapolis Valley

Annapolis Valley view, March 14
Looking from Lower Canard towards the Canard River and the South Mountain, March 14, 2011

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.

Vinyard in Lower Canard
Vinyard in Lower Canard, March 14, 2011

An impressionist’s view of winter in Martins Point

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!

Winter ice at Martins Point

Walking on thick ice

Making landfal
Making landfall on the island

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.

Back into the deep freeze

This morning, as a full moon high tide flooded in, and the air temperature hovered around -15°C, steam rose from the warmer incoming water as it met the cold air.

Steam rising from the bay near Western Shore, Nova Scotia

23 Things to Love about Winter in Nova Scotia

Snowy road
Snowy road
With thanks to my Facebook friends for their contributions.

  1. The smooth, quiet brush of fresh snow under your skis.
  2. The way ice breaks and cracks over rocks as the tide falls.
  3. Empty beaches with shimmering vistas.
  4. Sea ice and rock
    Sea ice and rock, low tide
    The mildness, softness and peace a snowfall brings.
  5. Like the folks here, a winter is softness and gentility: quite well mannered, and departs when the welcome is worn.
  6. Snow days!
  7. A crackling fire in a woodstove making heat that penetrates to your bones.
  8. Walking past a buoy
    A boy and a buoy

    Walking ON the bay in places we usually row, paddle or sail.

  9. Sunlight sparkling off snow-laden branches.
  10. Minas Basin ice shifting, buckling, making strange sculptures on the shore.
  11. Magnificent bald eagles.
  12. Watching the days get longer in the coldest part of the winter.
  13. Snow on Victorian house
    Icing on the cake
    Shovelling the driveway with a helper who will clear up the last little bits: the sun.
  14. NO mosquitoes, NO blackflies, NO no-see-ums!
  15. 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!
  16. 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.
  17. Ice floes
    Ice floes
  18. 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….
  19. Maple syrup made in the woods.
  20. Car in a drift
    Alone in a drift

    Patterns made by drifting snow.

  21. Winter skies unlike anything you see in the summer.
  22. Eating fresh snow.
  23. Cardinals and purple finches at the feeder.
  24. Getting insight into the life of rabbits from their tracks in the woods.

Oak leaf shape in ice
Oak leaf shape in ice
So there are some of the things we love about winter in Nova Scotia.  What are yours?  Leave a comment below.

Soft sea ice

Ice on rocks near Oak Island
Ice on rocks near Oak Island

I love how the soft sea ice forms, bends and cracks over rocks as the tide recedes.

It was -8° C this morning along the shore of the Bay, and the tide was falling.