The holiday so far, a bit more detail

I have been planning to write this entry since we flew over Canada on Monday, but haven’t really had the time. So while I’m waiting for a friend to appear on AIM, I’ll write it.

One of the things that really gets me when I fly into Canada is how different it is from the air. When I flew out of Heathrow on Monday morning, I looked down to watch England disappear beneath me. I always have the impression that England is filled with houses when I’m driving around. From the air, I can see that it’s not. There are large expanses of green fields and wooded areas surrounding clumps of houses. However, all of that green land is divided up into fields with little hedges marking the borders. The fields aren’t in neat little squares, they are a hundred different shapes that are more like a mosaic than neat tiles and they remind me that every square inch of England is owned by someone and has been owned by someone for hundreds, thousands of years.

Flying into Canada is completely different. From the air, Nova Scotia is just green with hundreds of lakes reflecting the sunshine. It’s not neatly divided up into little sections because there are still entire expanses that aren’t owned by anyone.

This year, for the first time, I flew in during the winter. Instead of green and blue below me, the landscape was dark green and white.ย  All the lighter coloured trees were naked and it was only the pine trees that still had colour below. The remains of previous snow dotted the open areas and all the lakes had frozen over. It was completely different and absolutely beautiful.

Driving out from the airport, the thing that really struck me was the snowbanks. It hadn’t snowed here for a few days so the roads and sidewalks were clear, but at the sides of the roads and on parking lots there were massive banks of grey/brown snow that hadn’t melted. I kicked one just to see what it was like and the thing was rock hard.ย  It’s from the plowing, where the snow is kicked up to the sides and gathered into mounds, but it freezes solid and doesn’t melt until spring. Some of the banks were taller than me!

Yesterday we had a quiet day. We went out to do a few bits of shopping down at the department store (wellies and a new clock for me were top of the list) but otherwise just hung out at home.

And what a day it was. My aunt has received a grant from the government to replace some windows and a door to improve the energy usage in her house.ย  Sounds simple, n’est ce pas?

Ouch.

The guy who got the contract measured all the windows and doors wrong. Way too big. So for the first window (in the kitchen) he decided to alter the house to fit the window. You can imagine how well that worked! He had two guys working for him (both hideously embarrassed at what this guy was making them do) and it took them all day to get the window in. Our contractor just spent the day running hither and thither to rent the tools and buy the materials that he “forgot” to get to start with. Yay. The window is in, the trim has not been put back and repaired and the guy had proposed to just stuff old house insulation into the gaps around the window and leave it that way. The young guys put their feet down, went out and bought some canned foam insulating stuff and at least made sure that the window was air-tight and storm-proof. With the snow that came in later, that’s a relief!

My aunt has put her foot down and insisted that the guy is to get properly fitting doors and windows for the rest of the work so that we don’t have to go through this again. And he has to finish off the kitchen one properly. I think this guy is going to lose money on the contract. Oh well, it’s his fault for measuring everything wrong in the first place!

The snow came in as the young guys were finishing up. I waited until they’d gone and then grabbed my camera to take piccies of the snow. Then I grabbed my new wellies and went walking to the end of the road and back, just so that I could see what it was like. Going out was fine because the wind was at my back. Going back was less fun: I can see how people get lost with snow blowing into your face and your mouth. Couldn’t see much and almost walked past the house, which was a little worrying! At least now I know this so I’ll really believe people when they say that I shouldn’t go out in that weather. My aunt took a photo of me as I came in the door looking like a snowman ๐Ÿ™‚

This morning we went out to look at furniture. I scouted a lovely, comfy bed and I’ve decided that I want to buy myself a Lazy-Boy when I move here ๐Ÿ™‚ Er, Mum also bought a few bits and bobs for the house. Heh.

As we came out of Wal-Mart, thinking about finding somewhere to eat, we discovered that the snow was back. Poor Mum had to drive in the snow (we’re not telling Da about that!) and so we drove home. She was brilliant and we got home safely without any problems. Thankfully we got home before the snow got really, really bad but I think she feels more confident in herself now that she’s done it.

The thing that surprises me is how different cars sound on snow. It’s a soft, whoosh sort of sound, kind of muffled, even though I know that their engines aren’t any quieter. I suspect that a big part of a car’s noise is its tyres against the road. I’ll have to watch that when I’m out in the snow, particularly if I’m on foot.

The other thing that surprised me is how quickly the plows get round and how efficiently the roads are cleared. They’re drivable when there is still snow on the lawns, which is completely different to life in England. It makes me feel more confident about getting through winter here than I did a week ago. I’d heard from friends and relatives about how countries like this cope with winter, but I feel better seeing it with my own eyes.

It’s beautiful out here with the snow. I’m falling more in love with Canada and particularly Nova Scotia every time I visit. I’ve seen it in every season now and I haven’t found one that I dislike. I shall be putting up photos when I get back to England because it really is lovely out here right now.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Da
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 22:52:45

    It really is different from the air – all that space with apparently no people! And the lakes, especially in the sunshine. Are they driving their cars out onto them? And has the sea frozen? The snow is beautiful (providing there is a nice warm house to get back to when it gets too much). It does dampen down the sound; I can feel/hear it now. OK I am officially jealous.

    I was cringing reading your story of the too big window in the too small hole. How do they get away with it? Perhaps he got his metric and imperial muddled up. Hope he gets it right second time round.

    Reply

  2. Chrissy
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 13:17:51

    my first outing out in the snow of canada, the wind was very fierce and the snow quite heavy, i came back with my mascara halfway down my face – who would have thought that you would need waterproof in the middle of winter!

    there is nothing better than fresh powder on the pavement in the morning, so fun! glad you two are having fun. i hope the storms don’t get too bad, we want you back at the end of the holiday! xx

    Reply

  3. archerygirl
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 21:07:06

    Da: They’re not driving cars out on the lakes, I don’t think it’s solid enough at the moment. The sea hasn’t frozen, either. But it is absolutely beautiful out here with the snow. We went down to Fisherman’s Cove today and the snow on the landscape was just amazing.

    Um, he managed it by measuring completely wrong. No muddle between imperial and metric, just total incompetence! He’d got the other window and the door wrong, too, but he was back today and thankfully he had a window that fitted. It’s amazing how much faster it was to put on when he didn’t have to cut away part of the wall to get the window to fit. You’d never be able to get away with that in England – brick walls don’t cut well!

    Chrissy: Heh, the mascara is definitely a good tip. I hadn’t realised just how wet your face can get with snow blowing full force at you. I thought that my glasses would protect me but they didn’t do much. It’s something to remember.

    Fresh snow is so nice to walk on. I love the crunchy kind of feeling under my feet ๐Ÿ™‚ We’re still hoping that our flight will get delayed on Monday so that our holiday has to be longer…

    ๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply

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