“It’s pretty, but that’s about it.” The First Real Snow Fall- Blogmas #10

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It snowed today, December 9, 2017, the first December snow fall of the year. Just earlier today, I was reading Jenny Lawson’s post “Strange New Weather Patterns” and lamenting that here on the East Coast of Canada, we had not seen our first real snow fall, the kind that sticks to the ground. It makes me think of “Frosty the Snowman” and the first few lines of the TV special, “I suppose it all started with the snow. You see, it was a very special kind of snow. A snow that made the happy happier, and the giddy even giddier. A snow that’d make a homecoming homier, and natural enemies, friends, natural. For it was the first snow of the season.” Around 4 pm today, we got our first snow of the season. It is now twenty minutes to 9pm and it has not stopped. And even though, here in the Maritimes, snow is a regular occurrence during the winter months, it is still magical nonetheless. And after reading Jenny’s post, I saw the fresh snow with fresh eyes and happy memories of childhood flooded back. Trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue, making snow angels, and snow forts and after hours of playing in the snow, going into my warm, cozy house to a cup of hot chocolate served by my mother.

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The snow makes the street look like a scene out of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Inspired, I decided to go for a winter walk around the city of Saint John, New Brunswick where I am staying for the time being. As I walked, I took in the scenery around me, taking in its magic with each breath like meditation. Suddenly it hit me why I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life so much. When the world is blanketed in white snow, it is like the black and white snowy scenes on the night that George Bailey is visited by Clarence, the angel trying to get his wings.

Walking in the snow in December with Christmas approaching fast means the added beauty of the Christmas lights shining in the snow. One of the first houses I passed were the Griswolds 2.0.

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Our local Griswold family.

Not only is their house completely covered with lights from top to bottom, they also have a speaker blaring Christmas carols as you walk by. And in the snow, what would usually be pretty tacky, suddenly becomes moment of wondrous beauty. With carols singing in my head, I continued toward the Harbour Walk Trail along the waterfront of Saint John. If you haven’t been to Saint John in a while, or ever at all, the Harbour Walk Trail is an amazing set of paths that run from the Reversing Falls to Uptown Saint John. That’s right, Saint John has an “Uptown” not a downtown. I have no explanation for you.

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Christmas lights are more magical when there is snow falling.

As I walked down in the direction of Uptown, I saw a display of Christmas lights arranged into the form of a giant tree. With no snow, it’s nice. But suddenly, with the flakes of snow surrounding it, it was the most fabulous thing my eyes had ever had the privilege of seeing. I kept walking, down into the bowels of the park toward the Reversing Falls. Instead of raining trees, like Jenny Lawson saw, I saw a raining overpass with a small pond forming below.

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Giant puddle forming under the overpass.

Snowplows going by on the overpass pushing snow over its edges were not any help to the situation. I looped up around into the North End of the city and I finally came upon an intersection with a church. I don’t even know what denomination the church is, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not sure why, but I think old churches are among the most beautiful structures created by humankind. And this church, amid the falling snow, did not disappoint. Even though a McDonald’s is right across the corner, our fast food addiction could still not dim the joy brought from the view of the church.

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I love old churches.

By the time I started back toward “home,” I was soaked from head to toe with sticky snow. (This snow is perfect Frosty the Snowman snow, and if enough falls tonight and stays around tomorrow, I may just make a snowman too.) It’s funny how at the beginning of my short journey in the snow, it was full of excitement and wonder and how quickly that changes when the cold and wet sets in. Instead of breathing in each moment, feeling the joy of being alive, I couldn’t wait to get the hell home to enjoy a cup of tea and my warm PJs. As my mood shifted, I walked past a group of people hanging out at the Curling Rink and heard a lady say what most Maritimers say about the first snow, “It’s pretty, but that’s about it.”

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Me, at the end of my walk.

I am now all cozy in my bed with my laptop and my hubby, listening to the sound of sirens on their way to the nearby hospital, non-stop. It seems the magic of the snow mesmerizes us every year and we forget how to drive in the snow. Tonight I will be lulled asleep by memories of my mystic walk in the snow and the blaring sirens taking stupid unprepared drivers to the hospital.

I hope nobody died.

 

A Christmas Dumping Day and Creamed Lobster- Blogmas 7

Living where I live, on the East Coast of Canada,  in a region known as “the Maritimes,” the ocean plays a significant role in our lives. No matter where you live in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and/or New Brunswick, the ocean is generally not too far away. It should be no surprise then, that the fishery is one of the main industries in the area. In fact, Maritimers are often stereotyped as being just a bunch of ignorant, fisher people. In fact, only some of us are. And the rest of us live in trailers.TPB

That being said, Christmas and seafood go hand in hand. Instead of Thanksgiving, “Dumping Day” is our unofficial kick-off to Christmas.  Dumping Day is not emptying our bowels to get ready for the Christmas bingeing. It is not about dumping out old things to make way for new gifts. It has nothing to do with dumplings. Dumping Day is the first day of the lobster fishery when the fishers go racing against each other to “dump” their traps in the most prime locations. Probably the most popular seafood and export in and from the Maritimes is lobster. lobsterThe lobster fishery is divided into 20 districts which all have different seasons. Most of the lobster that is available during the Christmas season comes out of Southwestern Nova Scotia and Southern New Brunswick. There are Hercules Helicopters circulating because fishing is a very dangerous occupation. Very often during the race to drop their traps, accidents happen. However, for most Maritimers who are not fishers, rarely a thought is given to these brave people who risk their lives so the rest of us can feast on lobster during the Christmas season.

One of the first signs of the Christmas season is the lobster fisher on the side of the road, in a pick-up truck, with a hand-written sign: “Fresh Lobsters” and the price per pound. They set up shop on corners of high-traffic roads in the cities, for many making a 5-7 hour round trip in order to sell the lobsters. Christmas Eve is probably the most popular day for lobster sales because one of the most common Christmas traditions in the Maritimes is a seafood extravaganza. In our house, our feast was an appetizer of fresh boiled mussels with melted garlic butter followed by the main course: fresh, whole, lobsters, also boiled on the stove. Do you hear what I hear? The screams of lobsters being boiled alive? It’s synonymous with Christmas carols in our neck of the woods.

Another uniquely Maritime Christmas Eve tradition is the kitchen party. Basically, it is kind of like those parties shown on films like American Pie except with adults and no one leaves the kitchen. Also, a lot of times people show up with fiddles and play Celtic-type music and everyone sings along. But generally the drinks are provided in those red plastic cups. The biggest difference would be that food is provided, and it is generally seafood.

I’m going to leave you with a Maritime specialty made by many Lobster fisher families in the region. It is a tradition many families here enjoy on Christmas Eve. I am personally not a fan of it, but I will also die if I eat shellfish (oh, the irony! Living in a seafood mecca and having anaphylaxis to any fish with a shell!)

Nova Scotia-Style Creamed Lobster

Ingredients

Photo Sources:

Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association. Cape Breton Lobster. <http://capebretonfish.com/sustainability/management/> December 7, 2017.

Graham. Berwick Shellfish Company. <http://berwickshellfish.com/merry-christmas-to-all-our-customers-friends/> December 7, 2017

Trailer Park Boys Image. 4k Wallpapers. <https://www.qrcodematrix.com/trailer-park-boys-christmas/> December 7, 2017.

Recipe Source:

Harris, Clara. “Nova Scotia Creamed Lobster.” Saltscapes.com. <http://www.saltscapes.com/kitchen-party/recipes/item/nova-scotia-style-creamed-lobster.html> December 7, 2017.