Saturday, March 1, 2003

In like a lamb. Not unlike last year when the weather was similar, warm and sunny and full of promise and the smell of wet mud.

I was on the road last week and before I left for the colder winter-bound parts of Canada, I took with me the picture of a family of bald eagles circling high above the house, with the adults calling to one another as they rode thermals up off the sea. The weather is so still at the moment, so slow to change that time almost seems to have blurred into one long cycle of graceful transition from sunrise to sunset and back. Nothing appears too suddenly. Clouds seem to form and build in and then gradually dissapate. Winds come up slowly and blow a little and then recede. Rain comes on and then eases off.

What has been so striking about this winter has been the lack of the meterological discontinuities that usually mark winter life on the wild coast. So few strong wind storms with their attendant rainfalls, no instant snow accumulations, no weeks of rain and darkness followed by a day of glorious sunshine to induce the sanity saving amnesia that keeps us happy through the winter. This season has been like a long dream, merely a pause between summers. A heretical season for the north, where a long winter typically prepares us for the pleasantries of summer. This year it has felt like we should be 20 degress further south than we are, at latitudes where winters hardly matter, where they play no role in marking the space between fairer seasons. Where they lack the presence required to form the psyches of their residents.

Such a winter lulls us into complacency, gives us no steel to truly enjoy the fair weather when it arrives. We forget the suffering of six months of rain and instead lean on the promise of that which we have not forgotten. I'm sure this summer will be lovely, but we may not notice. And then when November rolls around again and the winds bring buckets of rain and the darkness closes in, we will have been conditioned away from our typical responses to that season and will see it instead as embodying more agony than it truly does. Everything will seem worse, becasue this year winter passed us by.

I hope your winter has been more meaningful, wherever you are. Here it feels like what we have just come through is somehow almost "uncanadian," especially when I see what is happening in places like Badger, Newfoundland or Beresford, New Brunswick. We have escaped the tragedy of that kind of winter, thankfully, but we are different for it.

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