Monday, March 30, 2009

Signs of Spring

Every community has their own signs that winter is coming to an end. In the Annapolis Royal region, some of these signs are natural while others are very much human endeavors. I have already seen or heard some of the natural signs of spring. The Canada geese have started to return, and the barred owls have been hooting out their mating calls. I have also seen a number of snow drops in bloom in lawns and gardens. These first flowers of the season are a very hopeful sign. These little bits of colour are a good reminder that warmer weather is on the way.

As for the human signs of spring, in Annapolis Royal one of the sure signs that weather is getting warmer is that a boat has been brought in at the boat haul-up. Most years this facility closes in late November or early December and remains shut until the ice is gone from the Annapolis Basin. Some years this has made for a late start to the season as the ice has packed in on the slip and the carriage has not been able to slide into the water. This year, the first boat of the season, the Scotia Provider, arrived on March 29th.

The haul-up is an interesting facility. In many of the conversations I have with visitors to Annapolis Royal, I refer to things that we once had. We were the capital of Nova Scotia, we had an active fort until 1854, we were the end of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway. I like the boat haul-up because I can point to it and show visitors how the workers are keeping some of our heritage alive. Many of the skills and techniques used to maintain our wooden scallop fleet are the same as they were 150 years ago. The most obvious example, though not the only one, is that the boats are still caulked (pronounced corked locally) with a mallet and caulking iron. The ring of the iron as it is hit with the mallet would have been a common sound in any community where ships were built. While this is a very intangible legacy, I smile every time I hear this noise.

I took the pictures for this post a few minutes ago. It is somewhat overcast and rainy today so it does not look too much like spring yet. At least it is rain and not snow. There is more to be said about the haul-up, how it works and its role in the community but this will have to wait for a future post.

All for now,

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