How’s the Weather Out There?

I’ve been in Nova Scotia for about 20 years now and, while I’m not normally one for generalizations, I’m about to offer one: people here have a weird relationship with the weather. And I get it. While Mark Twain’s original, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes,” quip was written about New England, it solidly applies to Nova Scotia, as well.

When I lived in Ottawa, I never used to check the weather, because when you looked out the window in the morning, you could count on whatever was happening at that point to continue to happen pretty consistently for the rest of the day. But now I check the weather forecast at least daily, and no matter what it says, I still leave the house prepared for at least three different weather-related eventualities because goodness only knows what kind of mood Mom Nature’s going to be in this afternoon. I also participate in quite a lot of conversations about the weather, and find much entertainment in listening to groups of co-workers discussing competing forecasts, where one that’s 20 minutes old is greeted with a dismissive hand wave for being hopelessly out-of-date.

Which brings us to the bit that I find weird. See, it’s not uncommon for Nova Scotia to get hit by pretty significant weather events – most commonly hurricanes/tropical storms, and big-ass snowfalls. And while the snowstorms tend to be a dime-a-dozen, when it comes to storms of the summer variety, 2003’s Hurricane Juan is still the gold standard, the aftermath of which anyone living here at the time still remembers.

The street by my house after Hurricane Juan. The sound of chainsaws was thick in the air that day.

Hurricane Juan is why, when we check the weather and see this …

… we take that shit seriously and start to prepare. We stock up on supplies – everything from storm chips and beer, to gas and generators – because we remember being without power for a week or two, unable to get anywhere because of downed trees and power lines, and empty grocery store shelves when we finally were able to get there to stock up. And we tie down anything and everything so we don’t have to search the neighbourhood for it post-storm.

But while we’ve been hit by a fair number of summer storms since Juan, none has been as bad, either in terms of strength, or damage, or aftermath.

And people complain about that. Every. Single. Time.

“We did all that getting ready, and it wasn’t even anything,” is the refrain, in a disgruntled tone. Like they want to once again go through the inconveniences they did nothing but complain about the first time around.

Except I don’t think they think of it in that way at all. What I do think they’ve done is romanticize that period of time. They don’t think of the lives that were lost because of the storm. They don’t think of taking cold showers, and eating nothing but boxed food, and running out of clean clothes.

Instead, memories have gotten fuzzy over the years, and when they look back, it’s to a view of a unique moment in time, an obstacle overcome, a shared experience that those who weren’t there will never understand. Which is a lovely sentiment and, if I’m honest, not entirely inaccurate.

But it’s not something we should be wishing to experience again.

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