When talking with Newfoundlanders about winter they often don’t have a lot of good things to say. Generally there are jokes about the cold, the snow, and the endless R.D.F conditions. That is: rain, drizzle, fog (for the CFAs among us!). The only positive comments usually relate to childhood memories of winter, when they were snowier, had milder temperatures, and were full of fun times with friends skipping pans in the bay on the way to school. An activity not to be confused with skipping stones: skipping pans refers to a running race across the sea ice that has floated into the bay—an activity that to me sounds equal parts insane and terrifying.
At the hostel we have the pleasure of seeing Newfoundland in the spring, summer, and fall. A land that is as wild as it is beautiful, I have always wondered what it is really like when it is made even more wild and beautiful by the forces of winter. So I turned to some friends, and, after the usual range of sarcastic responses, they had a lot of wonderful things to say about Newfoundland in the wintertime.
For some, it was the sights and smells of the outside world in wintertime. Being in the woods having a boil up, with toast made over the fire using freshly cut spruce boughs. Or going to the cabin to enjoy some ice-fishing, skidooing, wood cutting, and snowshoeing.
For others it was the warmth and comfort of the inside world, the smell of birch smoke, or the heat from a wood stove, watching the arctic ice fill the harbor and turn it into a giant blue sapphire, or being wrapped up warm inside watching a raging blizzard.
“I love the colour grey of the ocean in winter. It almost makes me want to quilt it with just a tiny bit of orange, for some crab netting peaking through, reminding you that spring is coming.”
But mostly people loved the change in feeling and atmosphere, the sense of calm and tranquility that overtakes the land.
“There seems often that an eerie silence falls over the land. Not a bird to be heard, or even a whisper from another living soul.”
“Just being outside on a clear night when the moon is full and fresh snow has fallen, and there’s not a breath of wind. Or on clear cold nights with no moon, the stars seem brighter”
“It’s the opportunity to experience the opposite lifestyle. Summer is the yin, winter is the yang.”