Newfoundlanders have once again inspired us with their joyful acceptance of life’s little surprises – in this case, 70 cm of snow. Everyone has seen photos of hardy youth snowboarding down precipitous streets; beer coolers scooped out of snowbanks; custom coffee mugs labeled “I survived Snowmageddon 2020”; and candlelit wine and cheese parties being hosted in snow fortresses.
On the Island we have also enjoyed an inspiring amount of snow. Various snowmen and women have come and gone in the yard. We’ve had early morning coffee and muffins at the shore, supper cookouts, and nighttime snowshoeing expeditions under the full moon. The snow at Brookvale has been perfect for cross-country skiing, although the trail blazing seems to be lacking. We did the Yellow Loop and didn’t find one yellow marker on a tree the whole way. (By the way, “moderate difficulty” includes plenty of sharp corners at the bottom of slopes.) We made it around with several detours and moments of doubt, but the sun was out and it was always clear which way was south.
The route seemed long enough and we kept saying, “Imagine skiing to the North Pole!”
Another snowy event was the community sleigh ride. Our team of sturdy steeds included 10-year old Prince (Percheron) and 17-year old Trigger (Belgian) who barely noticed the dozen humans in our big box sleigh laughing and carrying on and marveling at the strength of horses. Some of our crowd remembered their farming childhoods: “Dad used horses in the woods. He always said a horse was better than a tractor.” Or, “In winter Dad drove the team to Long Creek and went the rest of the way to Charlottetown on the ice; it would take him all day and around suppertime Mom would start to get anxious.”
Heavy blankets over our laps kept us snug and happy as the horses and woods transported us back in time… then all too soon we were back at the lodge crowding around the woodstove with mugs of hot chocolate warming our hands… while Prince and Trigger eagerly trotted down to the barn for their own version of hot chocolate: crushed grain and “haylage.” (Haylage is grass cut like hay but not dried completely.)
And all this fun because of snow. In the book “Snow” (Ruth Kirk, University of Washington Press, 1998) the author writes: “Snow’s basic structure consists of molecules with one oxygen atom at the center of two hydrogen atoms held by electric charges at 120-degree angles from the oxygen atom. A single snow crystal may have 100 million such molecules” (p. 24). Contrary to popular belief, Kirk suggests that with the amount of snow that falls on earth there MUST be identical flakes. “In a single storm in February 1959, the Mount Shasta Ski Bowl in northern California was covered with a 189 in. snowfall” (p. 43). That’s inches, folks.
Like our Newfoundland neighbors and winter lovers everywhere, let us pull a lovely chilled bottle out of the snow and raise our glasses to beautiful snow!