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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Monday, January 24, 2011

Surviving the winter in Nova Scotia

Now those of you who live in brighter parts of the world aren't going to get this but here goes.

The place I live in is really beautiful, for about six months of the year. A few other months can surprise you, either way, but the November to March stretch can be Gloomy. This year I can count on one hand probably the days I have seen the sun since the beginning of November. I have noticed this particularly of course because the DH is away working in Tennessee for this winter and his reports of bad weather there, well let's just say they aren't that bad by my standards.

Now when challenged I have theory that some people go up and some people go down - it's in how you are wired. Myself I am not prone to depression when things are gloomy, but I do go into overdrive. Do things like decide to sew ten white shirts for example.

So this is how I am coping.

Saturday I decided I needed special food so I went down to our Farmer's market, about 15 minutes from here. Being winter there were only winter vegetables but I got some good cheese, apples and pears, bread and some Acadian chicken pot pies - everything is organic of course.

Here is a picture of the market:

And here is a picture of the pier it is built on, right downtown Halifax. This should give you an idea of the kind of location and city I am writing from. The sun was shining (clouds moved in later in the day) so I took a picture:

For those of you in the US the market is built on the pier that is the Canadian equivalent of Ellis Island. My own grandparents came through here at different times ; my grandfather with his sheep dog, my grandmother with a letter saying she was "a most excellent seamstress." My brother-in-law bought a plaque for the wall with the names of his parents who landed here from Greece.

It is a place with a lot of history.

I thought of my husband too when I bought my pies. His mother's family is Acadian, a fact recorded on the features of his face, and that is part of his history. For those of you who don't know that history the Acadians were the folks who settled here and were round up and put into boats by the British and pushed out to sea in the middle of the 18th century. Here is a link to some of that history.

Longfellow wrote about it in Evangeline.

Thousands died, some escaped and hid in the woods, some got as far as the plantations in the South where they   were rounded up and worked, some made it to Louisiana renamed Cajuns.

And some eventually made their way back to here, although I think they must have forgotten about the winters.

Last year my husband drove for two days straight from Tennessee to New Orleans. Just to see a name or face he 
recognized, hear some familiar music, eat some good food.

The Acadians love to cook. 

In fact I would say that one of the hardest things about him being away is the evenings. We go on Skype to talk to each other, sometimes while we are cooking. Me, my make-it-fast so I can go sewing meal, and him on his end making something elaborate and very tasty looking.

So back to how I am managing.

There is a thyroid thing that runs in my family. My grandmother, mother, and even my daughter have it, and so do I. I generally feel great and full of energy but I do slow down in the gloomy months. My doctor says this is not unusual. Did you know bears hibernate in the winter because their thyroid tells them to? Not a bad option if you don't have to go to work, and if you aren't interested in making ten white shirts.

So this is what I am doing.

Dressing warm. This is me with messy hair in the Lion Brand pattern big cable vest. Excellent for dog walking although when you take off your hat your hair looks like this:

And a close-up because the picture above doesn't show much but the crazy hair:

Making comfort food. Last night I pickled some cauliflower because I got all sentimental and remembered how we used to fish out the pickled cauliflower from the jars of mixed pickles, they were the best:

And I got a light box. It says something about my locality that these are sold in most drugstores in this town. Thirty minutes a day, I have it set up in my sewing room, to keep me from hibernating. It works I tell you - look I made pickles at 10:00 last night and also washed my kitchen floor.

And in four weeks I am off to see my spouse in Tennessee and my son in DC. Places where folks don't need to go under the lights.

That will be nice, very nice.


Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

I do get to see some light in the wintertime but I commute in the dark in the morning and the evening which makes the daylight hours seem so short.

I tend to hibernate...must be that bear thyroid in me! *LOL* I really only want to go to work because I have to and then I just don't want to leave my apt/cave. Oh and I have warmth issues too...so I totally get you!

LisaB said...

Totally makes sense. I'm glad to hear that the light box works! I've heard of them but haven't known anyone who used one.

Isn't it great that you have things to look forward to? Traveling soon to see family and shorter work hours on the horizon...Sounds wonderful!

Digs said...

Oh yea, fond memories of Beer & Beethoven on Pier 21! Which of your 10 white shirts are you wearing here?

debbie said...

I live near Buffalo, NY so I know gloom! DH retired 4 years ago and he kept commenting on how cloudy and gloomy it was all the time. I told him he just never realized it because he went to work and came home in the dark!
We really appreciate the sunny days.

Claire S. said...

I grew up in Saint John, NB so I totally get this ! The weather, the gloomy, the Acadian grandparents, even the thyroid thing and the pickled cauliflowers - LOL

We used to fight over who got to the pickle jar first - you had to dig without Mom seeing though, she was NOT big on digging from the bottom, you had to wait til the pickles went down far enough to reach the good stuff :-)

Leah said...

It sounds like L.M. Montgomery forgot to mention a few seasonal things in her books. I always picture Fall or Spring, but sort of skip over Winter in my head.

My husband has lived here in Southern California for 9 years, after having lived his whole life in northern New Hampshire. Whenever we have a gloomy day, he always remarks that it, "feels like home.". Especially in the Summer, as it seems ours are much sunnier than the muggy, overcast Summers that he remembers growing up. Although I'm sure their weather was not quite as extreme as yours, he claims that the January to April stretch of Winter felt so very long every year.

Weird as it is, your post made me long to visit Nova Scotia during those beautiful 6 months. Surely all that dreary gloom must pay off tenfold?

Thank you for all the white shirt info. I am not planning to make a white shirt per se, but definitely a collared, tailored one. So I appreciate all the tips and inspiration!

Barbara said...

Leah, you are right. For those six months the place just sparkles, the air is like champagne, and people are all active and outside all the time. In fact when I have visited places like California I have been amazed that people weren't outside and smiling every minute of the day like we are here. Seemed to me to be such and incredible waste of good weather.

There are of course those who enjoy the winter here - my son surfs all winter. sometimes climbing over the ice and snow to get into the water when it is almost still dark. Apparently the waves are sick.