I’m back in Vancouver after a visit home to Nova Scotia. For the first time in years, the holidays were seasonal: hoar frost crunched underfoot; wood-smoke wafted horizontally in air too cold for it to rise. Winter, true winter, had arrived in Antigonish County, and that, in a way different from the past, was something to celebrate.

I was reminded of my previous visit home in April, of opening my town’s weekly newspaper to find an old photo republished. In the picture was a house, eaves covered by powdery drifts, front door lurking at the end of a tunnel through the snow. Two men stood outside leaning on shovels. Steam swirled up from the mug they shared and mixed with the cloud rising off their sweaty bodies. The smear of a dog filled the image’s lower left-hand corner; it wasn’t patient enough for the archaic camera to hold it in the frame. A date was scrawled at the bottom of the picture: April 28, 1918.

Beneath the image the newspaper editor cheerfully noted that — a hundred years later to the day — Antigonish County was snowless and the winter had been warm. “Aren’t we lucky?” he seemed to imply.

“Is the ground nostalgic for snow?”

(essay continued here)

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