Tag Archives: spring

The countdown begins

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A word to the wizened, if not always the wise: Only 35 shopping days remain before spring raises its lovely, garlanded head. Unless, of course, you count the weekends which, given the lack of money in various bank accounts around the region these days, why would you?

I like to pretend that in a little more than a calendric month, we in southeastern New Brunswick will be well on our way to a long, beatific summer. Of course, I like to imagine a lot of things that only rarely come true.

About this time last year, I was feeling pretty much the same way as I am today about the universe. In the first place, it looked like we had, for once, dodged the great, white bullet of winter. No more talk of polar vortexes, Alberta clippers and Nor’easters. Only sunny skies and gradually warming temperatures stretching ahead as far the mind’s eye could see.

We all know how that worked out. Two days before the official start of spring 2015, the Weather Network, with its irritating, trademarked cheerfulness, recapped the winter that was:

“According to unofficial totals as of March 18, this winter has now brought snowfall amounts that crack the Top 5 in Moncton, N.B., Saint John, N.B., and Charlottetown, P.E.I. As of Tuesday, March 17, Moncton was only 2 cm away from reaching the Top 5 with a snowfall total of 450 cm. As of 9:35 a.m. AT Wednesday morning, Moncton unofficially reported about 4 cm, which would put them in the no. 5 spot, knocking off the 1991-1922 winter.”

Still, what gives me hope that February and March of this year won’t, again, prove me a liar to myself is another Weather Network bulletin issued just last week. To wit: “The past two winters were dominated by a particularly resilient weather pattern, which kept the warm influence of the Pacific confined to the West Coast, and left the Eastern US open to persistent outbreaks of brutal Arctic cold. The winter of 2015-2016 finally looks to bring an end to this stubborn setup.”

Ah, yes. Good, old El Niño, the oceanic phenomenon that typically brings milder-than-average weather to the eastern seaboard, and chillier-than-seasonal temperatures to the southwest. The continent is experiencing an usually strong one this year. Or as the Weather Network reported a couple of months ago, “El Niño set a new record for heat in the central Pacific Ocean this week (November 24). Is it on track to become the strongest El Niño we’ve ever seen, and what could this mean for the winter?

“So far, El Niño 2015 has been very unusual. Teasing NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) orecasters with signs and signals through 2014, it ultimately procrastinated in its actual development until early 2015 and it has been growing since, into a rival for some of the strongest El Niños we have on record. As of now, it has already set a new record, though. Weekly measurements of temperatures in the central Pacific ocean are now 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the very first time in the quarter century that these measurements have been taken.”

On the other hand, as in all things weather related in this region, we hold our breath in abeyance of any certainty that our faith will be rewarded. For my part, I’ve lined up my seven shovels on the front veranda as if to challenge the first truly big blow to hit the city.

C’mon, I dare ya!

Tomorrow, it’ll be a mere 34 shopping days till spring. And I’m on a roll to blossom time.

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The seasons of our discontent

Permanent winter for a Moncton events centre?

Summer came in like a lamb, and, for all intents and purposes, it settled for a long slumber from which it has yet to fully awake.

On the first day of autumn, in Moncton, the sky was azure blue, a light southwest wind blew, and the temperature was Bermuda-warm.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will remember that day because, for sanity’s sake, I must.

How else does one survive the winter that is surely to come?

There are no descriptions sufficiently accurate to capture the utter absurdity of last year’s white and woolly season – in fact “white and woolly” doesn’t even scratch the surface.

During the days just before Christmas 2014, a record seven feet of flakes fell on Buffalo, New York. In comparison, we on Canada’s East Coast had gotten off Scot-free. In fact, on December 27, the mercury didn’t dip below 16C. We could have been forgiven for believing that the rest of the winter would be just as mild. Except for the fact that The Almighty was not in a forgiving mood.

When Old Man Winter finally descended sometime in mid-January, he arrived for the duration – kicking up his feet, daily belching snow and ice, until, under some of the coldest temperatures on record, he had deposited as much as 500 centimeters (16.4 feet) on my West-end neighbourhood of the Hub City, by early April. Even the old-timers where astonished.

At some point in late June, the last of the once-incredible snow dump, adjacent to the Shopper’s Drug Mart on Vaughan-Harvey Blvd., had finally melted to the ground, leaving only the standards and flags intrepid mountaineers had planted on its peak.

Then, mercifully, came summer – one of the finest and longest on record in this corner of the Canadian Steppe.

Also, rather rudely, came Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s election call on August 6, reminding us all that October 19 is just around the corner, vaulting us all into the shoulder season that prefaces the arrival of winter, once again.

There ought to be a law, in this country, that proscribes warm-weather political campaigns – one that prohibits stern-faced candidates from invoking the certainty that our cold, dark, worried hearts are as inevitable as a February Nor’easter.

Leave that to the shovel season, when those who want to vote for “one-of-the-above” or “none-of-the-above” must work to get out of their driveways and exercise their democratic rights, come rain, sleet, ice, and snow.

As it is, signs urging voters to nullify their ballots have been showing up all over Moncton’s downtown in recent days – the lazy, hazy consequence, perhaps, of a glorious summer, interrupted by the same, old politics of division, easy partisanship, and cynical vote pandering.

Try erecting those road-sign messages (any messages) in the middle of a blizzard; see how far you get.

Still, we persevere; looking for a main chance, searching for a man or woman who will speak the truth, for once, to power, tracking the Great Dear of democracy through the September of our expectations, the snows of the impossible winters of our frozen minds, the frigid springs of our disbelief, and, finally, the summer seasons of our discontent.

As for me, I will take the last of this beatific time of the year to reflect, under the blue sky and baking temperatures, on the fleeting nature of pure joy: When the lambs and lions of the political world might finally lie down together, and contemplate building this province, this region, this country together.

After all, then, and only then, will we fully awake.

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