in the freezer, and books with which to while away the fleeting hours. Aside from a couple of checks of the Weather Channel (always good for those moments when the other 35 things distributed across the 200-plus available channels fail to entice), I don't think the TV was on all day.
Maritime Noon had a phone-in show on weather recently and I was primed to participate. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the Maritimes were as well. I was late tuning in and could only listen as tales of "the worst weather I've ever experienced" rolled in.
I could have mentioned a recurring event from the early days of our marriage when we spent a fair amount of time driving between where we were living and the homes of our respective families. In recent years we have divided up the driving into chunks of two hours each and that seems to work fairly well. But in our youth the way it worked (or so it seemed) is that I would drive until the heavens were about to open. I don't know about the fountains of the great deep but the windows of heaven were certainly flung wide as soon as my wife took command of the helm.
We were reminded of this odd meteorological habit the other winter on our way back to New Brunswick from a bit of a jaunt to Ottawa. We had stopped in Lennoxville overnight at our favourite B&B and were on our way to Coburn Gore and the shortest route to St Stephen. "Why don't you start driving?" I said to my wife; the sky was blue and the sun beamed upon a snowy world. The effect barely lasted until we were outside Lennoxville. From there to the Maine border the road was dreadful. Curiously, conditions had been precisely the same going the other way and my wife had driven the same stretch of highway.
There were some times, though, when I was at the wheel during one of these heavenly upheavals. There was the time in Toronto when we were driving a young and rather timid British visitor to Malton Airport to catch her plane home. The sky was grey when we left the house, but quickly turned to black and then to green. We had just about reached the turn-off to the airport from the 401 when the windows of heaven were flung wide again and the rain, accompanied by spectacular lightning and thunder, came down so hard I couldn't see the road. I eased onto the exit ramp and applied the brakes. And then applied them harder. And harder. The car kept moving, or so I thought. In fact, the wind was raising waves in the water on the road and pushing them toward us. Without an outside reference it looked like we were moving! Of course, when we got to the airport the power was out and the place looked like an abandoned city. Fortunately a kindly stewardess - blessings on her! - recognized the signs of panic when she saw them and took our guest under her wing.
I don't know why it is that when I think of really bad weather I usually think of times spent in the car. Like the time I drove from Sussex to Mount Allison in a really unpleasant snowstorm to teach a class and, upon arrival, was informed that the University was closed. Apparently the secretaries who lived in the neighbourhood had called in to say the roads were impassable. Whether they lived together in a colony somewhere out on the Tantramar Marsh I was never clear. But I wasn't impressed.
However, there was one really bad storm I remember clearly, back in the 1950's, which found me not in a car but in a little wooden shack on top of the highest building in Tompkins County, upper New York State. It was the night when hurricane Hazel roared through on its way to Toronto. A buddy of mine and I had a job spotting airplanes for the civil defence authorities (and you thought U.S. paranoia was a function of 9-11). All we saw that night were power lines arcing and sections of the city going black. The Russians could have flown anything right over our heads and we would not have been the wiser. Why we weren't simply blown off the roof is beyond me.
And that's it for the weather - for now. The one sure thing about weather, though, is that there is always more to come!
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.