Photo from Our Cape Breton Home, Facebook
Tag Archives: Discovering Winter
Snow squalls, snow fences and the privatization of highways: ‘It is time to draw a line in the snow’
The following reflection was written on February 28, 2014 but for some reasons was not published at the time. I am posting it now in the midst of the extreme cold weather front that is gripping Canada and the United States.
The view from Blantyre
By TONY SEED
WHEN extreme weather event strikes, the reporting of the media proceeds from the premise of the insurance companies: it is a supernatural “act of God,” a natural disaster divorced from the social conditions made by man. It has become a genre and given a name – disaster journalism. It was all so “unexpected.” Hurricane Katrina? Just blew in suddenly from the Gulf. That ice storm in Atlanta? The weather suddenly shifted upstate in the morning. That tsunami in the Indian Ocean? No-one at the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii had the phone number of the Sri Lanka president and hence the island received no warning. Thousands of people, mainly poor fishers, along the eastern and southern coastline were engulfed by the deep blue sea, as if an act of Buddha. Due to the large number of victims, that far-off disaster did make the evening news. These were not “accidents”; natural disasters became crimes. Continue reading
New England was engulfed recently for what many media called a “historic snowstorm.” The U.S. sports media complained that the NBA All-Star Game was being held in “a cold city” (Toronto, where the temperature that weekend was -23 C). Today it is snowing again, my door is blocked by a drift, the lane to the road – I call it “The Dr Zhivago Memorial Lane” – is impassable due to the drifting snow, cabin fever is setting in, and so I returned to learn more about that one city in particular that has it hands down, and just about every single day. I had posted an article and photos about it just a few days ago. Some people dream about being on a deserted island; I look at those in seemingly more adverse conditions.
The coldest temperatures in the northern hemisphere have been recorded in Sakha, the location of the Oymyakon valley, where according to the United Kingdom Met Office a temperature of minus 67.8 degrees Celsius (−90 °F) was registered in February 6, 1933 at Oymyakon’s weather station. It is called the coldest on record in the northern hemisphere since the beginning of the 20th century. Continue reading
By TONY SEED
NOVA SCOTIA beds down gradually for the winter, in stages. A little fog, a little rain. And slowly pulled over us, from north to south, a fluffy white blanket. We like to be covered and snug for Christmas. But there are vagaries, mostly between the Fundy/Northumberland and the Atlantic sides of the province. Some areas stubbornly refuse the blanket – Metro, eastern and especially south-western Nova Scotia at times and Brier Island more often than not – but by January most of the province is under wraps. Three winters ago, it was great. We have temperate, mild Maritime winters, with gradual changes, unlike the extremes of Newfoundland, Moncton and Amherst at the head of the Bay of Fundy, or the freezing sleet of Canso, which is another story. Seldom a winter without two or three mid-winter thaws. Then there was last winter’s “open”; we were the mildest province in Canada – the lakes didn’t freeze, hardly any shoveling … good for the driveway public, not so for the kids, ski-trekkers and ski-dooers.
That first snow changes everything. It is as if all the clutter in our landscape has been swept beneath a rug. The horizon is clearly defined and the sky seems to expand with the cold. And while much is hidden by winter, much is also revealed. Without leaves, trees and homes reappear with stark intimacy. Our maintains seem higher than squat. Flowers, grasses and weeds lie back and the true lay of Nova Scotia emerges. One sees so much further. At times we look over great seas of white. As the temperature drops, the scent of pine, balsam and salt air intensifies. The moon hangs in the sky illuminating the brilliance of Orion and Sirius.
Do Nova Scotians change in the winter? Out-of-doors, under an astonishingly varied collection of heavy clothing, personalities recede. There is less small talk and a brisk formality takes over; conversation is clipped in the cold, clear air. Yet indoors, winter can be the most cordial of times. The warmth we share, created specifically for our comfort, thaws our reserve and encourages our conviviality. In the deep drifts of blizzards, we rough-house, ignoring the cold. Nowhere is this more true than in the hearth and homes in the country. We think the people of Nova Scotia reflect the landscape … similarly, yet somehow different in winter.
Unlike society, it is seemingly beyond man’s control, the source of pleasure, inconvenience or, as with the Ocean Ranger, avoidable tragedy.
Source: Shunpiking Magazine, Volume 1, Number 1, December 3, 1995