I would show you a photo of Clyde River today but you wouldn’t know if it was Boston, New York or Toronto or our beloved hamlet because all the photos would be white. I was speaking to someone yesterday that said her daughter who is away at university told her that she was wishing she could be home in PEI this weekend for the storm. When her mother asked why, she replied, “Well, we could do storm things.” So it started me thinking about the “storm things” that we do. Some involve picking up your favourite foods, buying a great book or magazines, getting a craft project down off the shelf for you or the kids to work on, wearing your most comfortable, warm clothes, and building a wood fire (if the wind is not too high). It all works out brilliantly unless the power goes off.
I remember as a child “in the Bannockburn” that when the power would go off, my mother would take down the kerosene lamp from the top shelf in the pantry and set it in the middle of the kitchen table and tell us stories about what life was like before electricity or “electric lights”. She would set up word games for us to solve and there would be a wood fire burning in the stove. With each gust you could hear the roar of the wind and the rattling of storm windows. Mom would turn the crank on the wooden telephone in a particular combination of longs and shorts to check in with neighbours and relations to see how they were holding out. It was always interesting to hear the stories of intrigue of how high the drifts were gathering, could they still get out the front door and how the animals were doing in the barn. They would also tell you about what they heard from their other neighbours who were likely listening in on the party line.
When we headed to our beds, we would have so many blankets and, in extreme cases, a “buffalo blanket” that my mother still had from the days of horses and sleighs. The blankets were so heavy, we pretty much had to choose our sleeping position before we got into bed. There would have been lots of water saved in advance to keep the plumbing going and a pot of hot water on the stove to wash up before tucking in. As children, we were thinking of all the things we were missing like television, but to our parents, it was just a normal day from their own childhood that they wanted their own children to learn about.
The next morning, we would find our warmest clothes that typically included a woolen sweater and socks and head downstairs for some hot oatmeal. If the wind had died down, we bundled up in our coats and woolen hats, scarves and mitts to explore the new winter landscape. The wind could create areas bare to the ground right beside a cliff of snow that was well over our heads. We made caves and snow forts and climbed to the top of the mountain of snow to look out over our creation. The dog who had been staying warm in the barn would come out to play with us, too.
Our mother would then call us in for something to eat. The best thing about a storm day is usual meal plans don’t apply. For lunch or an afternoon treat, the pancake griddle would come out from underneath all the other pots and pans and we would make pancakes over the wood stove. As each pancake was cooked, we would take a turn to place it on our plate, pour molasses over it and enjoy its sweet warmth. After, the crokinole board would be placed on the kitchen table and we would play for the rest of the afternoon or until our shooting finger was too sore from flicking the checkers.
As the wind howls in your neck of the woods today and you recall your own memories and traditions of storm days, we invite you to share them with us in our comments section. Stay warm.
Check out Carla MacDonald’s story of her memories of storm days in the comments section below…