If you live in the Northern hemisphere, especially above the 47th parallel, winter has settled in to stay for a while. Whether you hibernate, prefer denial, or embrace the season may depend on how cold it gets in your neck of the woods…
- Hibernate? You are a heat-seeker in all seasons, especially now, piling up the logs or blankets while dreaming of tropical beaches, staying indoors while waiting for winter to pass. Or you have already headed south so you can ignore winter more effectively.
- Live in denial? You walk (or run) hatless through the freezing air, relying on your car to get from one door to the next, and don’t even own a warm winter jacket or toque.
- Embrace the season? You are outdoors at every opportunity, enjoying the intensity of the winter sun and impossibly clear blue skies. You are probably a skier or skater or snowmobiler or snowboarder — or all of the above — and live for that squeaky sound the snow makes under your boots and the rush of cold air as you speed downhill or skate under the stars.
As for me, I’m all three (although my skiing and skating skills are nothing to brag about). And I will admit it: in some profound part of my spirit, I do love winter. I love the sudden joy of finding Orion watching from high overhead on dark bitter mornings. I love the sound of nothing made by falling snow on a windless night. I love how the fresh snow transforms my dull leafless city, sculpting every surface in sparkling white. I love the fact that I can witness the most wonderfully golden sunrises without having to wake at 5 am. I love that deliciously crispy ’ air which puts red in my cheeks and a sparkle in my eyes.
Now, if only I could remember all this when I wake up in mid-February in the middle of a deep freeze…!
Photo taken on Jan 10, 2015
To celebrate the new year, and in the interest of simplifying and strengthening my web presence, I have decided to prune all my neglected webpages, blogs and abandoned projects strewn across the internet. All I need is my website, and my current and archival photos displayed on Flickr.
But somehow I could not delete this blog. Tin Can Beach refused to be abandoned, despite my neglect over the past three years. Besides, I have been searching for a way to start blogging again because — as focused as I have been on photography over the past few years — I realize that I miss writing. So I’ve changed my mind; I have decided to come back, to pick up the thread of my Saint John stories and photos. After all, it’s not really that much of a stretch: I may have stopped publishing for a while, but I have never stopped exploring.
Welcome back, friends.
photo taken Jan 1, 2015
I know it’s not spring yet, but look — patches of bare ground have appeared where ice-encrusted snowbanks once ruled, I can see a ring of grass around the maple tree, and, on the sunny side of the street, a sidewalk! This past weekend, the temperature soared to 9 degrees celcius and it rained (other places were not so lucky). We lost two-thirds of our snow. It feels like such a relief.
Along with the warming temperatures, other signs of spring:
- a sleepy housefly was buzzing and bumbling around the kitchen at work
- the goldfinches are beginning to yellow up
- the cat actually wants to go outdoors
- lost dog toys have suddenly turned up in the backyard, having been there all along
The construction project uptown has moved into a new phase of work, and the excavation for the new parking garage has begun. When I walked by the construction site yesterday, I smelled mud. Mud! Any day now, road crews will be out with fresh asphalt to start filling the huge potholes that plague the city streets.
The construction season has begun. Can spring be far behind?
Photo taken on February 24, 2011
I was browsing my winter photos the other day, and actually cringed when I found one with the comment, “Yay, the snow is back!” We’ve had so much snow this year, I can hardly believe I felt that way only a few short months ago. At the same time, I’m aware that all this snow will seem as unreal as a dream in another few months.
In the last few days, I’ve been walking around our property, making mental notes:
- the snow is over the top of the driveway reflectors
- look how it’s drifted right across the fence
- it’s higher than the railing on the back stoop
- the snowbanks along the road are taller than me.
Right now, we’re inside looking out at winter and wishing it will go away. But it will go away, and we’ll be outside looking into our memories, shaking our heads as we say to each other, “Do you remember all that snow we had last winter? It was up to here!”
Photo taken on February 28, 2011
I’m been feeling down lately — and it’s just silly, because I’m really enjoying my job at the moment, and we went to the theatre and symphony and caught up with friends over the past week — but…
- It’s February, and the sidewalks are horribly icy, but spring is coming in the sense that today’s snow will be mixed with rain and freezing rain (yuck).
- I have all but disappeared from my online communities (my apologies for not coming by to visit lately) due to total lack of inspiration.
- I haven’t even taken any photos for a week (this image taken two years ago shows Saint John looking almost exactly as it does today, icicles included).
- When I was reorganizing my desk a few weeks ago, I dropped my favourite lens, a 24mm prime. Fortunately the lens itself seems to be fine, but the autofocus is no longer working.
- My ankle sometimes still aches where I hurt it last fall.
- And, well, I’m going to be 50 next month. I’m not shy about claiming my age, but I am afraid of aging, I am afraid of not being able to walk, I am afraid of not being able to carry my camera wherever impulse takes me, I am afraid of not being able to see clearly.
Yes, I know these February blues will pass, that my petulant whining will magically disappear in the face of a new adventure or new accomplishment, or new month. I’ll be waiting.
Photo taken on February 25, 2009
You don’t know what will trigger it, whether storms or stillness cause the shift. It could be as simple as water dripping from the end of a melting icicle, or the gradual realization that, yes, the days are getting longer at last! But when the longing for spring hits you, there’s no turning back.
I love Terra’s comment on my barbecue dreaming post, “I have been having the same feelings of longing and separation from the earth, the green, the smell of the dirt (or my own sweat!). I love winter but I am starting to really yearn bodily for the warmth of spring…”
At home, we’ve been talking about our plans for this year’s garden. My partner has ordered a whole slew of seeds, and I suddenly have the deep desire to plant something. Winter, yes it’s been a lovely visit, but it’s time to pack your bags. We’re waiting for spring to arrive.
Photo taken on February 5, 2011
After the storm had blown through yesterday, we went through a walk through the quiet streets in our neighbourhood. As we walked, we admired the sculptured snowbanks piled high by plow, snowblower and shovel, and smoothed to softness by the wind.
Walkways and driveways had already been cleared in front of some houses, and others were deep in drifts. A dog ran out to greet us as we walked by; his owner was busy with the shovel in front of his house — you wouldn’t have known he was there except for the snow flying up over the high bank. Another man with a snowblower was working farther down the street, and I could hear the sound of an ice scraper behind a running car in a nearby driveway. A taxi drove by, taking the turns carefully.
There was still a nip in the wind, and the soft snow swirled from snowbank to snowbank as we followed the tire tracks through the snow. We returned home, our cheeks red from the cold, cleared the back steps once more, and hung our hats to dry over the mudroom heater.
Photo taken on February 2, 2011