Monday, 7 January 2008

There's usually a thaw in January. We're having one today -- temperatures of +5ºC and fog - and it is expected to last until Thursday. In consequence, the snow load being very heavy this year, there are horrible scrunching and bumping sounds coming from my roof, as three stalwart local lads shovel the majority of the heavy wet stuff off onto the ground. And onto the deck, and the porch and the parking pad. JG spent most of Saturday shoveling the deck clear so that it would not collapse with the weight of the extra snow. He spent Sunday up on the roof of the barn and the cabin, clearing the power masts and chimneys so that when the snow slides (these roofs are metal) it will not bend them out of shape. Unfortunately the house roof has asphalt shingles; I expect a lot of the shingles will be pretty bent by the time the crew finishes. But it is better than a waterfall in the front hall, any day.

Ten years ago we had a thaw that turned out to be the weather event of the century around here, even beating out the huge snowfall of '72 that broke the backs of barns and arenas all around Eastern Ontario. As the temperature hovered just below freezing, it began to rain and it continued to rain for four long days. Hydro towers crumpled as they were coated in thick ice, cars crumpled as they skidded into poles and trees or were hit by falling branches, people huddled around their fireplaces or stoves, in candlelight, or moved to improvised shelters where generators could be found.

Out here in the highlands, we're prepared. At chez G we even had a generator, although it was a kilometre downhill at the sugar camp and it took us the better part of two days to hack our way down to it and bring it up on the tractor. It was dark, however, and noisy. The noise came from trees creaking under the weight of the ice, cracking, breaking, falling. They fell in piles and windrows and heaps. The tree lined roads were all but impassable, the laneways giant games of spillikins. Our sugar bush lost 60% of the crowns of the trees and was almost impossible to navigate. The snaps, crackles and pops went on day and night.

The most horrible thing of all was how beautiful it was. The first day that the skies cleared we tried to walk out to assess the damage. We got lost, so many landmarks were gone or obscured. But this is what it looked like.
Some confused residents.
The field behind the house -- same view as the first photo.

The main road to the sugar camp.

The Canadian government sent in the army. It poured millions of dollars into cleanup and help for the farmers who had lost cattle, maple bushes, Christmas tree farms and buildings. But it will be a generation or longer before the forest recovers.


  1. Wow. Those pictures! What was amazing about the Ice Storm was just how wide a swath it hit. It's hard to imagine that much forest under attack.

    BTW, we've got the thaw today too and I am worried about my roof and deck and, eventually, the flooding in the basement.

  2. It's just so PRETTY.


    I'm happy in shorts, tee and slip flops. I am. I am. I am. I am. I don't need winter. Warm is good. It's all good.

    I'm sure it's been a challenge and will be one, this storm, but oh how much beauty it makes and how great that you caught that bit to share.

  3. err Flip flops I meant. Although P2 calls them slip slops and she wears a flim floop to the pool for swimming. ;)

  4. Julie, just saw your pic of your outfit with the stripes. Envy is not the word for it!

  5. "The most horrible thing of all was how beautiful it was." this dichotomy, it's heartbreaking