Was listening to CBC Information Morning Fredericton (yep, good old-fashioned terrestrial radio) a few weeks back and there was a gentleman who emailed in reporting that he had tracked ‘days of snow cover’ in New Brunswick for several years. By ‘days of snow cover’ he meant days after the first snow that sticks, and doesn’t melt away. Unfortunately I can’t find if/where he posts any of this info on the Internet so I’ll summarize what he said.
We usually get our first snow sometime as early as October, but it seldom sticks and melts away. Usually it’s at least November or December before we get snow that sticks around, sometimes not even by the first of the year. By his calculations, once the snow sticks, we average around 128 days of ‘snow cover’ each year.
This year he noted that our first snow that stuck was early November and that if the trend continued – no doubt it will – that we are set to break the record of days of snow cover, which I think he said was around 138. Given all the factors, his estimate was that we’d probably hit the 150-155 day mark this year – a new record – and one that would mean we were under snow for roughly 48% of the year.
Friends, relatives and acquaintances often ask how I can manage to live up here with the winters we have. I regularly point out several things:
I prefer seeing 4 distinct seasons. I’ve lived in places where the weather is pretty much the same year-round and it gets boring.
Given proper preparation and attitude, winter activities are actually awesome and living someplace like New Brunswick means that everyone embraces them enthusiastically, if only because there’s no other choice but to do so.
I guarantee that those of us who live in places that see ‘true’ winter appreciate our days of spring, summer and fall far more than those who have a steady climate year round. When you get a limited number of specific kinds of days, you make the most of them.
I’ve noticed that amongst people who live regions with harsh or long winters, there is a sense of community and tolerance that is not found it other places. Rather unscientifically I’ve been observing it for some years now and chalk it up to the notion that when you have to possibly rely on the assistance of strangers or neighbors to just survive the winter, there is generally more willingness to set aside differences and an increase in basic good will for your fellow man/woman/person. I enjoy this sense of camaraderie, even if it is futile in a sense of resisting the will of a planet that could easily end us all. It’s fun to persevere.
In the milder months, I can step barefoot right out my back door onto nice green grass. Yesterday, I had to construct a bit of a staircase so Crash could get out to do his thing. If you look close at the top of the photos, you can see our clothesline, which normally is at about 7′ off the ground and that now hits me in the chest and I have to duck under. We’ve been here over 10 years and I’m not sure if this a record-breaking year in terms of quantity of snowfall, but it definitely seems like it will set a new record for being around the longest. I think buddy said probably mid-to-late April. Then Mud Season starts.
Some months back I loaned my copy of Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens to a friend-of-a-friend. He messaged me awhile ago and said that he ‘owed me a book’. I asked for clarification and apparently his dog, a Vizsla that goes by the moniker Frank Tempo, had ‘dispatched’ the book with due prejudice. I laughed and said I could think of no better way for that book to have met it’s untimely end.
I said to not worry about the book, but noted that he’d given an Memento Mori coin to our mutual friend and hinted that one of those would be nice…
This morning in the mail I received a very nice gift from him, surpisingly a Summum Bonum coin instead. From the attached card:
Summum Bonum is an expression from Cicero, Rome’s greatest orator. In Latin, it means “the highest good.”
And what is the highest good? What is it that we are supposed to be aiming for in this life?
To the Stoics, the answer is virtue. If we act virtuously, they believed, everything else important could follow: Happiness, success, meaning, reputation, honor, love.
Our goal in creating this medallion is that you will feel its weight in your pocket and remember that no matter the circumstance, no matter how dire or desperate, how straightforward or scary, virtue is the answer.
The coin is very well made, nicely sized and with a substantial heft. Feels really nice in the hand. I am inspired to honor my friend and his gift by striving each day for “the highest good.”
I saw this gigantic moon the other night. I didn’t know it was a thing, but The Atlantic says apparently it is and posted a bunch of photos of it.
The moon appeared about 10 percent larger than average as it approached its closest point in orbit, about 220,680 miles (356,760 kilometers) from Earth.
I was at home wading through the madness of trying to figure out how to get 2 kids 3 different places at the same time the next day and making lunches and I started to lose it a bit. Then to top it off the dog starts bugging me to go outside.
So I’m out, standing in the middle of my dead quiet backyard and it’s lit up like day because of this 1,000 watt moon and crystal clear sky, and I breathe deep and say to the Universe, ok, I get it now. I’m a nobody. My problems don’t mean shit. Thanks for the reminder. I’m just the luckiest bastard alive for even getting to stand here in the cold and stare up dumbfounded in awe at this massive, beautiful fucking moon.
I didn’t take any pictures of it. Crash and I just bathed in the glow of all that light reflecting off all that snow. Then we went back inside. That was enough.
I have a special affinity for Labrador Retrievers. My grandfather had Labs as far back as I can remember. He was a duck hunter and used them to that end (with various levels of frustration and effectiveness I’m sure he’d say). He could be hard on his dogs, but I also have memories of softer, bonding moments with them that resonate with me.
I get Labs and they get me. They are my Tribe – in a way unique to them and them only. I have a relationship with them different even from the peoples in my life – and that’s no affront to those peoples – it’s just that Labs are different. Whenever it’s time to consider a new dog and I start to think maybe I should consider a different breed – it’s only a fleeting moment – I always come back to these clowns.
Labs LOVE this time of year and this kind of weather. Grey, wet, dank, muck. Cold, ice, snow, sleet. They can’t wait to get out into it. To paraphrase Richard Wolter from his seminal book Water Dog – “you can work a lab in conditions and weather that would kill most other dogs – and they ask for more.” I think this is part of my enjoyment and bond of the breed. I like to get out in all the weather, good, and particularly bad, and revel in what Ma Nature is dishing out and most of the Labs I’ve ever come across are completely willing – actually ecstatic – to come along.
I actually enjoy ‘wet dog smell’ and dirty paws. There’s nothing as glorious as a Lab in his element, truly in the moment. For sure they will frustrate the hell out of you at times, but as the years pass, I enjoy more and more each one’s unique personality and challenges. The specific characteristics of this breed – both the good ones and bad – are what continually draw me back.
I can’t think of a better companion to have when you’re “headed out into it.”