The weather outside can be frightful even in the good old summer time. In 2016, that season trolled down following "creepy fires" which helped denude the Nova Scotian landscape.
Even in Mahone Bay which was fire-free, things got a bit "creepy." If it doesn't snow on Christmas, we all know the consequences, but Nova Scotia is a wet province in terms of rainfall, so...
To this point in time Nova Scotians had been somewhat insulated from the concept of Global Warming.
But there were precursors of this problem going back at least three years, however, a month-long lack of water was not anticipated. The frog was designed by the famous E.C. Escher. It, of course, casts no shadow like figures in an Alex Colville painting. That's Magic Realism!
This is how it was reported as summer fell upon the land. And that was early on.
We expect our warmest days at the end of July and first of August. All of us (of a certain age) have had connections with this local summer entertainment which used to travel between communities in the last century. This poster is pure Art Deco.
Summer colours? As a visual individual I also have to think of American illustrator Franklin Booth. Fire and Water and Wind, not always in comfortable proportions. It is wind as well as heat that browns the land.
Commercial illustrators used to be magicians when it came to using colour. Don't emphasize those hot colours when trying to attract tourists.
A think that many locals have come to prefer warm earth colours because of the long winter season which tends to the cool part of the spectrum. Tim Horton's coffee, the irrational national drink, has always tasted like it was brewed from dried summer grass. These two photos were taken in Mahone Bay on August 4, the Lughnasad. The Celtic sun god Lugh had a full eye on all of us from then on. Actually earlier than that!
More summer colours courtesy of Franklin Booth. "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." - 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Book of Proverbs, 16:18. Nova Scotia was experiencing a very good tourist season in spite of some inconvenient weather.
In defense of ordinary folk, I have to say there were diversions from these really serious happening. That warning never did manifest itself locally.
The following day there was more of the same in parts of Atlantic, Canada and lightening can be a source for forest fires. On this day the threat was completely removed for south western Nova Scotia.
That day actually saw a further extension of a dry spell that started in mid-July. This home in Mahone Bay has been in self-destruct mode for years. Ordinarily, rain, ice and snow have added weight to parts of the structure causing of the components. However hot days expande surfaces and cool nights had the opposite effect and stress is proportionate to strain. Once the elastic limit is exceeded...
At this juncture, vegetation was holding its own and from this shot of one of the two streams draining the town site it might have been thought that high land and air temperatures were not causing much in the way of evaporation. The inset photo taken of this same area when the tide was out on August 8 tells a different tale.
The weather forecast kept promising Mahone Bay and Lunenburg County with minimal amounts of rain, but there were no showers and no downpour until mid- August.
Historically dry spells are expected since much of Nova Scotia depends on surficial water and not deep-seated aquifers. In 2016 summer was more of a dry season than a glitch in the usual supply.
This CBC post went on line on July 5.
As July ended this situation was equated with conditions in New England and no longer dismissed as a simple "dry spell."
It was well into August when that nasty seven-letter word became commonplace in news reports.
Farmers who wished to irrigate were constrained by available water. Purchasing water is not a viable long-term solution.
Possibly individuals will have to revert to foraging, but what about the carnivores amongst us. R&R are not though going vegetarians.
Oceans are absorbing most of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, but the rate of warming of the Gulf of Maine has been three times that of other bodies of water. The changes are driving down populations of commercially valuable cod in favour of less succulent warm water species. Lobsters have already abandoned parts of their former habitat , and shelled gastropods like mussels, clams and oysters are vanishing because of acidification of the water. The effects of the increase of sea-water temperatures is a story in its own right.
Here are some headlines which have expressed a need for concern over warming oceanic temperatures.
Pubnico could now be described as a nice little little fishing village with a possible drinking problem that had nothing to do with the fact that the liquor outlet closes on Sundays.
The situation was never as disparate at Mahone Bay which pumps water in from the Oakland Lake watershed.
Chester, which is about twenty minutes distant was hating all that "fine". Even the playhouse needs water in order to operate and like many places in town it has its own resource. The cistern there went dry twice most recently on August 10 during a Saturday night performance. "As a public facility it impacts washrooms and things like that," operations manager Alanna Swinemar told CBC. "Thankfully, our performers and audience were very understanding of our plight." The solution was an unbudgeted $300 dollar water delivery on Monday morning.
Mahone Bay has resisted amalgamation with the Municipality of Lunenburg County perhaps fearing that her needs will be overlooked. Chester does not exist as a completely separate entity and that is why the Municipality makes decisions on behalf of citizens. We used to eat here just down the street from the playhouse, but this large restaurant is no more.
That idea was forwarded by several business owners. I can't say whether the water scarcity situation was a factor but bringing in tankers of water at $300 per load can't help the bottom line.
If you are love sad stories here is one for your collection provided you blown up that small type. Pub owner Bob Youdon said it was hurting him financially and asked how the local government expected Chester to see new businesses flourish where there was no "stable water system."
This year those part-time mariners have gated off their club house and charge an entry fee to the grounds, perhaps to help offset the cost of bringing water to the club house.
Visitors and tourists are a necessity for some of the remaining part-time and full-time businesses. However, seasonal folk are not wildly supportive in supporting the village's long-term needs.
Again, you'll need keen eyesight to read our inset so we suggest going to CBC on line to read the full story. GlassLass is operated by Paul Pelango and his wife Sharon McNamara. He says even residents are divided when it comes to financing a reliable downtown water supply and adds that that means that current businesses will ultimately have to shut down.
Part of the problem rests with residents (including CFAs) who draw down little water and do not wish to toss cash into funding the project. This in spite of the fact that Chester has relatively low taxes and nothing like Mahone Bay's special levies to fund waste and potable water projects and maintenance.
Our favourite cafe across the street from the pub is gone but the Kiwi Restaurant is an equally good restaurant although so crowded in season we dare not stop by for a simple cuppa. It is across from Paul MacDonald' gallery and she has said, "I've heard of a lot of wells all over town going dry, including the Kiwi restaurant across the street, which has never gone dry before." The owners of that popular place made no comment.
Ruth's family as lived in Chester and at Chester Basin in times past when the business district was vibrant. That yellow building housed a pharmacy which has moved out into the municipality district. It now serves a realty company. The pub is at left across the street.
There are a lot of wealthy landowners in Chester but there are also modest homes and undoubtedly folk on fixed income, who just can't afford a water upgrade, particularly if they are not connected at the end of the project.
Water tankers are not restricted to the south east of Nova Scotia. Rod took this photo back in the days when he thought these Halifax bound vehicles were hauling milk. He did wonder at the lack of advertising on the shiny stainless steel carriers.
Halifax Harbour. When it does rain the effects are often torrential and runoff is swift on hard-baked land. That means exceptional weather and erosion of a coastline which is being flooded by sea-level rise, geologic land subsidence and storm surge. Since we now have more frequent collisions of cold and warm air masses, there is thunder and lightning which not only lights up the sky, but in some cases ignites forests.
This article is probably still on line. It is of course flooding which is of concern for most of these heritage sites. Ironic that the root cause is increasing land, sea and air temperatures interacting in violent ways natural forces of nature.
New findings are not encouraging.
There is much talk concerning the persistence of memory, but human recall is often short-sighted and mutable. We forget uncomfortable truths, which don't last long on Facebook.
This is a photo of a flooded main street in Shelburne, Nova Scotia not that long ago. Most photographers are sensible enough to avoid the height of sea surge and storm epicentre.
In recent years the weather in Southwestern Nova Scotia has been variable, and surprising, to say the least.
Closer home, we note the recent loss of that little red summer shore dwelling at Corkums Island, near the Town of Lunenburg. In that case the building allowed no after images since it was reduced to kindling. The citation notes an actual happening but the name of the family was concealed.
There have been no recent losses of shore line buildings at Mahone Bay and this parking lot has been infilled since then, but studies have shown that the potential for loss is still implicit at all of our coast.
South Main Street, Mahone Bay, 2011. Near high tide.
This provincial government site explains the dangers of the current situation. Denial is hard to overcome and there is not much sign that most Nova Scotians are ready to move into the other stages of grief: anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Westhaver's Island at the south of Mahone Bay's harbour shows that the forces of nature cannot be bargained with and that depression and anger must end with that last state. In acceptance, folk come to embrace mortality or inevitable future or other communal or personal tragic events. At best, this can lead to a calm, retrospective view for people, and a stable condition of emotions. Attitudes such as, "It's going to be okay and I can't fight it," are replaced by the constructive, " I may as well prepare for it."
Aren't we doing anything right? Donald Trump probably would say we are not. "Wind turbines are a scourge to communities and wildlife. They are environmental disasters... Wind turbines are not only killing millions of birds, they are killing the finances & environment of many countries & communities." But what does it take to make a true environmental disaster?
We have had several years of high temperatures especially in inland areas of Nova Scotia.
And this had led to an annual forest fire situation with lightning and man being the chief causative agents.
There did not appear to be anything unusual in early reports.
If memory serves, I saw a small mention of forest fires in true wilderness areas on August 4, but at first they were not highly publicized. This is a Queens County truck taking on water in the Maitland Bridge in the heartland of Nova Scotia well away from the coast.
Three days later this report noted that about eighty tourists had evacuated these chalets at the headwaters of the Mersey River and that the fire which threatened them was at Greenfield in Queens County. This news report mentioned that it was soon brought under control, but more northernly fires had expanded. The one at Maitland Bridge then covered 24 hectares, but that near Seven Mile Lake was moving more rapidly and encompassed 90 hectares. It was revealled that all were in the vicinity of Kejimkujik National Park.
Vacating those chalets was a good precaution since smoke filled the air and the Mersey River has virtually dried up. The road from Liverpool north past the retreat was open as far as Kedji, but closed at the entry there well into Annapolis County.
This Google map located the three fires and shows how they were located with respect to Mahone Bay (large yellow circle). All fires were near Route 8 connecting Liverpool with Annapolis Royal in the north. Distances are mot great since it is a little over two hours to travel from Mahone Bay to Annapolis Royal using a connector to Caledonia which in close to Greenfield.
Kejimukujik has an inland presence as shown as well as a seaside adjunct located between Hants Point and Louis Head. Only the dangerous, persistent fire is indicated by red flames on this map.
The factors which lead to an uncontrollable wildfire are high air temperatures, low humidity, drought and wind, and the forces of nature were conspiring. That road was destined to remain closed for more than a week. The Atlantic location was more humid but tinder dry because of high winds and was fully closed. The main park never shut down completely. However, the park was only accessible from the south and refunds were offered to tourists who were put off by the potential danger.