There is a reason February is only 28 days long. It is the most depressing month of the year. Winter has dragged on far too long by this point. The joys of the first snowfall and the treks to the sledding hills are all long gone. The snow is no longer snow – typically it is pack-ice. Warmer days seem an age away. The main holiday is Valentines which is only good for the young and newly in love. For half the population the holiday is a reminder of how sad and lonely their lot in life has become. The worst of winter typically hits in February. Winter storms come barrelling up the East Coast day after day as the Big Guy does his level best to bury Atlantic Canada in a new ice age – The Day After Tomorrow comes to life.
This year to lighten the February blues we got a new holiday here in Nova Scotia – Heritage Day they called it. Everywhere else gets Family Day. I think the Nova Scotia Government realised that by February most families hate the sight of each other, having been snow-bound for the last three months, so they decided to go with something a little less contentious. Now I’m not ungrateful to be given another day off work. I just wonder, why February? Why the coldest, snowiest, most miserable month of the whole year?
Last evening we were up with friends who live in the Valley (for those ignorami amongst my readership without an encyclopedic knowledge of Atlantic Canada, ‘The Valley’ is not the place of movie lore.
The Valley Girls we get are a far cry from the airhead Californian Valley Girls (I particularly like the Urban Dictionary definition). We don’t have a young Nicholas Cage strutting around trying to act. Instead, we have the promised land of fields and meadows, vineyards and orchards. The Valley is also in the snow-belt. This past February was the snowiest on record for many parts of Atlantic Canada. Our friends told us of a night in mid-February when they arrived home having been away for a few days. Their entire driveway was buried beneath 5 feet of snow. A local farmer had to come and dig them out with a backhoe (again, not the same as the hoes of the other Valley). Today, they are unable to see the street from their window due to the snow mountain left behind.
And so today I am writing in celebration of March. Whilst it does seem slightly ludicrous to say this as I sit and look out on a landscape buried beneath a couple of feet of snow and ice, the arrival of March brings a definite change in perspective. There is a feeling of optimism that the end of winter is in sight, there will be renewal and rebirth. The animals think the same. Our perennial pheasants are out in the back field strutting and displaying, fighting for territory and tail. The mad March hares are beginning to make an appearance. There are squirrels around. The blue jays are back, and there are lots of the little birds around (I’ve no idea what they all are. I knew them in England but they’re all different in Canada). People were out today at Costco in T-shirts. It’s so much warmer – only minus 4o Celsius in the daytime it’s still minus 15o overnight, but we’re not outdoors then).
The West Coast crowd have been lauding it up these past few weeks with pictures of crocuses and daffodils in Victoria, BC. They found the single day without rain to take these pictures. I for one would take a minus 10o day in the Maritimes over a plus 4o day in Victoria. The reason? Victoria is in a rain forest. It rains for three-quarters of the year. Cold, crisp winter days with blue skies are liveable. Months of damp, dreary weather is not. Too much like England for my liking!
Maritimers have also found a way to deal with the pans of winter. They emulate the birds and fly south. Our lower cost of housing leaves our pensioners with more spare cash to escape the snow for Florida, Arizona or Palm Springs. Most leave after New Year and return in April. Now then you’ve got the best of all worlds. There is nowhere more beautiful than Atlantic Canada throughout summer and fall.
So, now that the worst is behind us and the cabin fever is abating, we can start to enjoy life once more in our forgotten corner of the world. You should come out here some time and take a look. You might just fall in love with the place.