The Heart of Winter:
Cold on the outside … and warm on the inside.
With thanks to my Facebook friends for their contributions.
Walking ON the bay in places we usually row, paddle or sail.
Patterns made by drifting snow.
So there are some of the things we love about winter in Nova Scotia. What are yours? Leave a comment below.
Let me take you for a drive after a snowfall.
All photos taken on Thursday, January 21, on my way to Pinehurst, just west of Upper Northfield.
Some take it in stride; others would rather fly. The train is rather nice. I took the bus once – never again. But many, perhaps most, Nova Scotians have done the long drive between Nova Scotia and Ontario (once called Upper Canada) or Quebec (formerly Lower Canada) at least once. Many have gone “down the road” to seek their fortunes and return to Nova Scotia for holidays. Others make the trip regularly, in one direction or the other, with kids in tow.
But doing it in winter? Is it crazy?
We did just that for our Christmas holidays. It certainly is a bit of an adventure. The roads have been improved in recent years, but it’s still necessary to prepare for the unexpected.
The new toll highway through the Cobequid Pass in northern NS, which shortens the trip, was closed for 14 hours overnight a couple of years ago during a snowstorm. Imagine a family travelling in a car getting stuck for that period of time. My sister was once delayed for 3 days in northern New Brunswick, in the snow belt between Fredericton and Rivière-du-loup, with her dog. You also have to deal with heavy truck traffic, constantly spraying your windshield and dictating your speed.
The alternative, flying, is iffy too, if your goal is to be “home for Christmas” as I learned by experience years ago. Flights are often delayed by weather, and it is an expensive time of year to fly, especially for a family.
So we got our VW diesel Jetta into excellent running order, checked the snow tires, packed provisions and entertainment in case we were delayed en route and had to tuck into a motel for a few days, carried bedding for warmth in case we were stranded by the side of the road, packed extra motor oil and wiper fluid, and even a spare battery, just in case.
Long distance sailors say that if you want to meet up with them, they can promise you a time or a place, but not both. A long winter driving trip is a bit like that. Most of the time, the roads are fine. So we kept our fingers crossed, while preparing for whatever would be thrown our way.
We were lucky this time, with smooth sailing all the way. If we’d returned home one day earlier or later, we’d have found ourselves in a blizzard.
Edmundston, New Brunswick, is a good overnight stopping place for those who aren’t inclined to drive straight through the night. Several hotels cater to people traveling through. Sitting in the hot tub at the Best Western, I chatted with other Nova Scotians, heading either east or west, while our kids enjoyed the water slide. I felt part of a special club of hardy pilgrims keeping alive our family ties and connections to “home”.
… I think. At least the sun has come out as the temperatures dive well below freezing. After several days of hovering around the 0°C mark, the sun rose to -14°C. Time for a walk.
Hot off the press: our first Nova Scotia Photo Album video. It won’t be the last!
This one shows how tide and temperature create an ever-changing landscape on Mahone Bay’s shoreline, from first frost to spring breakup.
The music is an Appalachian tune called Frosty Morning, played by Dennis Robinson on fiddle and Heather Holm (that’s me) on accordion.
I stood and watched the tide start to go out, leaving traces in the snow to mark how high it had been, ice crystals transformed by the brief caress of the ocean.
It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day with temperatures well above freezing. We have a lot of snow and ice for that sun to melt. Still, it feels like spring on a day like this. Some people find this time of year difficult in Nova Scotia, when daffodils are blooming in Victoria on the “other coast”. Others relish the cold temperatures and make the most of it. As for me, I’ve usually had my nose buried in my work at this time of year and this year is no exception. And I’m grateful for that.