Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Four Seasons of Spring

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, by Sara Jewell.
April 1st, 2012. No snow! And all the dogs found was a plastic pipe.
Spring in Nova Scotia is the season of dropped culverts, cold mornings and warm afternoons, and thawing dog poop.
            What? You thought I was going to say the season of robins, daffodils and potholes?
            It’s also the season of what the dog brings back from the woods.
            When I moved to Cumberland County at the end of March eight years ago, the first thing my dog discovered was the old beaver carcass my Nova Scotia country boy was using for coyote bait in the field behind our home. Even though he moved it way back into the woods, Stella brought home “treasures” for months.
            Nothing equals the sight of your big brown dog trotting home with a spine hanging out of her mouth.
            That was my introduction to spring in rural Nova Scotia.
When you think about it, March 20 is rather a cruel joke to play on the people of the Maritimes.
            Spring in Vancouver, where I lived for five years, begins in February with cherry blossoms.
            Spring in Ontario, where I grew up, involves green grass and a long weekend in May when you actually can go camping. Nor did we have to wear snowsuits over our new Easter outfits.
            We know it’s spring in Nova Scotia when the snow melts and the rain starts. Then summer arrives a week later.
            Despite the complaining I do about not having the slightest clue how to dress for spring in northern Nova Scotia (my heartfelt thanks to the person who invented fleece), my recent spring experiences prepared me well for life as a Maritimer. It toughened me up.
For several years prior to moving here permanently, I spent five months with my parents at their summer home on Pugwash Point. Every year, we arrived a little earlier and stayed a little later because my father had Alzheimer’s disease and the further he progressed, the more time we wanted to spend at that house, on that point, in this area.
One spring, the start of what would be my father’s last season at his beloved Pugwash property, I was sent down east as the advance team, to get the dead flies swept up, the beds made and the old house warmed up ahead of my parents’ arrival a week later.
            The dogs and I arrived on April 12. In southern Ontario, the grass was green, the tulips blooming, the daytime temperature around 15 degrees. In northern Nova Scotia, there was a snow bank in the back yard and ice chunks floating in the harbour. 
            That spring, it snowed -- deep, heavy, wet snow -- on April 21.
            That spring, I learned that green firewood doesn’t burn so I also learned how to use a dog for extra heat inside a sleeping bag. 
            The same dog, incidentally, who would drag home parts of a long-dead beaver two years later once she had 72 acres on which to roam.
            So when our younger dog lugged the leg of a deer out of the woods last weekend, she was simply carrying on a traditional rite of spring.
You could see that as a sign of hope, you know. Not for the deer, taken down by coyotes once she was weakened from eight weeks of endless snowstorms. It’s a sign of hope for us, survivors of Winter 2015, survivors of Spring Every Year.
            When everyone in Vancouver is skiing and golfing on the same day, we’re still snowshoeing from the parking lot to the office.
When everyone in Ontario is heading to the garden centre to buy seeds for the vegetable gardens, we’re still heading to the farm supply store to buy seed for the wild birds.
For those of us in northern Nova Scotia, as soon as the dog starts bringing home body parts, we know the melt is on and the spring is truly on the way.
 Also known as the season of mud. 

No comments:

Post a Comment