Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Send Someone To Fetch Me

This column was published in the February 1st issue of The Oxford Journal by Sara Mattinson.

As we waited for the snow/rain storm to hit last Friday, forecasters kept talking about it starting in the west and then saying, “it’s already snowing in Yarmouth.”
Wait a minute, I thought. Aren’t we in the west? Isn’t Cumberland County the west part of Nova Scotia while Yarmouth is southeast? Or are we north? But when I drive home from Halifax, I’m heading west...right?
It appears I can only drive in this province when there is cloud cover. If it’s sunny, I have no idea what direction I’m heading. The sun is never where I expect it to be. When I drive out of Halifax at four in the afternoon, I expect the sun to be in front of me, because I’m heading west. But look! It’s shining in the driver’s side window and that should be south. 
“I don’t get how this province is situated,” I complained to my mother as the sun tucked in behind the car. 
“That’s nothing,” she replied, “I don’t get debit and credit.”
Which just proves the importance of good signage, and that some people aren’t ready for a cash-less economy. 
It’s not that I don’t have any sense of direction; I only get lost when I don’t know where I am (and that only happens when we’re four-wheeling and my husband decides to “see where this trail goes”). Perhaps I’m turned around here because I was born and raised along the 401 corridor between Toronto and Kingston. It’s a straight highway running across the southern part of the province. Head east in the morning, the sun is in your eyes;  head west in the afternoon, the sun is in your eyes. It’s all perfectly obvious. 
Yet here, I can’t even tell where north and south, east and west when I’m standing in my backyard. Here’s what I think the problem is: The roads in Nova Scotia are crooked. It appears they were built according to the local geography, not the 90 degree angles of the compass. Winding river? Build the road alongside it. Hills? Go around them. Hey, let’s follow that eagle! I hope I don’t come back in my next life as a Nova Scotia crow because I’ll never be able to get around the way I’m supposed to.
Maybe a map will clear up my confusion. Or not...it appears that the actual land mass of Nova Scotia lies north and south, which still  doesn’t explain why Yarmouth is considered west. Cumberland County still looks “west” but definitely “north” of Halifax. I might as well drive with my eyes closed.
All I know for sure is this: No matter where I am in Nova Scotia, no matter where the sun shines or where the snow starts, I am where I am supposed to be. And if the road signs in this province ever fall over, I’m lost. 

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