As I sit here at my computer in this summer of 2018, I am filled with gratitude for living in the beautiful province of Nova Scotia in the small village of Victoria Beach. VB overlooks the Digby Gut, and in case you don’t know, the Digby Gut is a narrow passage of water separating the mainland of NS from an isthmus which juts out into the Bay of Fundy, which in turn leads to the Atlantic Ocean.
Like many people today, I try to be grateful for little things in my life. Today I am grateful for having chosen to live in Victoria Beach over ten years ago. After more than seventy years of living, I have discovered that practising the art of being grateful has huge benefits: for example, it keeps me focused on the positives rather than the negatives in my life. Goodness knows we all need to do this these days when we hear what is going on in our world. Practising gratefulness isn’t a waste of our time considering how it is human nature to want to complain. This is especially true of many Nova Scotians who do it more out of habit than actually feeling ungrateful. Complaining is a bit like talking about the weather around here. It is often used as an opener for making conversation which is an attempt to be friendly. However, could we not lessen our complaining by being more grateful for the things we have rather than for what we lack?
Unfortunately, this summer’s weather is giving people much to complain about since we are now entering our fourth week of record-breaking high temperatures and humidity indexes. High 20’s and low 30’s are simply not the norm for Nova Scotians! In the past, we were lucky to get even a few days of above 30 degree weather. This province has never experienced anything like the heat wave we are now in the midst of and forecast to last until the end of August. Like the rest of Canada, we are breaking all known records.
Air conditioners in Nova Scotia have always been few and far between except for Halifax where they can be found in public buildings and some homes. Now everyone is talking about getting a heat pump or some kind of A/C. However, even though the heat is very much on our minds with bodies bravely attempting to adjust to it, many of us are striving not to complain….too much! How can we when we hear that in some parts of the world people are actually dying from the heat or losing their homes and forests to the wildfires that abound out in the western part of our continent?
Every summer, we who live here in VB, have been blessed with the cooling breezes off the Bay of Fundy which gives the locals bragging rights for having the Bay at our doorstep to provide free air conditioning. This year is different. Now there is talk that just maybe we need to purchase a heat pump. Personally I have not found this weather too hard to handle probably because my yearly forays to Thailand have acclimatised me. Yes, it’s been getting unbearably hot at times during our heat wave, but just when I’m starting to drip, a welcomed breeze will appear for some relief. The nights are still quite cool at about 18 degrees so a good night’s sleep is definitely possible when I keep our windows open. Doing this ensures our mornings begin with a comfortable house. Early morning fog which collects in the Gut has also helped to keep our temperature under control until the sun appears. However, it’s not so much the temperatures, but the high humidity which is our greatest challenge as it truly saps our strength.
Cindy Day, our resident meteorologist, explains this spate of prolonged heat and humidity on what is called a Bermuda High where hot, humid air moves to the north from a high pressure system over Bermuda. Another meteorologist likens this effect to how a heat pump works, pumping the American air northward where it gets trapped above us. As these winds move forward, they pick up moisture which in turn lessens the oxygen available. Apparently this is causing the fatigue and headaches which many of us are experiencing. It’s also driving hoards of us to Nova Scotia’s beaches.
Nova Scotia’s beaches are definitely another one of our blessings during this heat wave. Our province is surrounded by the ocean providing white sand beaches along the Atlantic coast where the average water temperatures are 65 degrees. More sheltered beaches can be found along the Bay of Fundy and the Northumberland Strait.
We also have access to over 3,000 freshwater lakes and hundreds of small streams and rivers. Water is never more than an hour or so drive for most Nova Scotians.
For those of us living in Victoria Beach, we actually can lay claim to a beach of our own. It may be cold and rocky, but it does provide us with invigorating waters should we want to venture into them.
We can crow about how lucky we are right now in Victoria Beach, but we have no right to be complacent. Scientists are predicting that higher summer time temperatures will become the norm, and that we need to prepare for this. Where do we begin? Well, we can install a heat pump for air conditioning for starters. The government is now offering help to home owners in the way of rebates for those who wish to purchase one. If that’s not feasible, we can buy a few fans which I am told are being improved all the time for noise and efficiency. When we leave home, we can carry a water bottle with us at all times to keep hydrated or take along a sun hat for protection. Or, we can take borrow the Eastern custom of using an umbrella to shield ourselves from the sun’s intense rays. We can also schedule our heavy work both inside and outside for the early and later part of our day. Furthermore, we could even do what Europeans have done for centuries…take time off at the hottest time of the day for a rest or siesta. What a great way to reduce any stress in our lives or just catch up on some much needed sleep if we have trouble sleeping through the night.
So, rather than complaining about how hot it is, let’s enjoy our prolonged heat wave for the remainder of our summer and consider what we can do in the future to deal with our changing climate which is without a doubt at our doorstep. This will be our challenge.