Coming Full Circle in Appalachia
I have come full circle. I grew up in the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia with winters dotted by snow and blizzards and cold winter winds. My brother and I raced sleds down my grandmother’s hill. Winter track practice often ended in snowball fights. My first “driving practice” in driver’s ed began as I drove the car across the snow and ice covered school parking lot on a frosty February day. We had winter!
Then I got married and, after a year in Louisville, KY, began moving south - first to Lenoir, NC, then Greenville, SC and then, to Charleston SC where we lived for the last 20 years. As my youngest daughter described winter in Charleston…”Winter comes in February, lasts 2 days and goes away.” (Of course, that has not been true for Charleston this year!) Winter meant cool running temps, crisp walks on the empty beach, and pansies and snapdragons that often bloomed throughout the season.
I’ve come full circle - back to cold winters. As we prepared to move to Nova Scotia from SC, I regularly compared the temps in my hometown of Shady Spring, WV with the temps in Nova Scotia. It was often colder in those WV mountains than here in the “more temperate” Atlantic Maritime region. But this week it’s been cold - and snowy. Today, we experienced bitter cold temps and the last of the nor’easter winds across the open waters of the Bay of Fundy produced ocean flurries and snow squalls. Snow squall warnings are issued when bands of snow form that produce intense accumulating snow or near zero visibilities. I drove through my first almost white out around noon today (verified by my local Canadian friends!). So I’ve come full circle back to snow and cold winters.
I’ve also come full circle back to Appalachia. The entire province of Nova Scotia (as well as New Brunswick and Newfoundland) is located within the Appalachian Mountains - yet another one of the things I didn’t know until I moved here. The Appalachians extend almost 3200 km (2000 miles) from the state of Alabama to the edge of the continental shelf beyond the Canadian province of Newfoundland. Geologists will tell you that, if you look back in time, this ancient mountain belt continues to the east through Greenland, on to the Caledonian mountains in northern Ireland and Scotland and even into Scandinavia. Who knew? I’m learning more geography each day.
You can now hike the International Appalachian Trail from Mt. Katahdin in Maine through the province of New Brunswick to Belle Isle, Newfoundland. It’s a little cold for that right now, so I’ll settle for my daily walks around my little part of the Appalachians. There’s a reservoir that’s about a 5 minute walk from my house. Known as Reservoir Park, there are over 12 kms of trails that wander off in every direction. Don and I wandered out for a very cold walk (wind chill of -15 F) this afternoon around the trails.
A lone ice skater with a snow shovel was on the frozen reservoir - clearing snow from the ice for skating.
Indeed, I have come full circle. One of my favorite things to do growing up in WV was to wander into the woods. Every time I went home to visit, I coerced my brother into taking me hiking (and if you want to go hiking in Southern WV, he knows some great trails.) So now, whenever I can, I bundle up in my coat and gloves and hiking boots and go wandering into the woods.