General Category > Musings from the Colonies.

A Nice Cuppa Tea and a Slice of Ice Quake Vicar?


This is my second attempt at writing this muse, the first attempt disappeared, before my very eyes, as the power went out again.

In the last war, the cuppa tea was a staple, standby, for the general population. Armies apparently marched on it, sailors washed their socks in it, and my mum brewed and rebrewed the pot, till the contents became the colour of copper.

This winter here in Ontario has been one of record breaking proportions. Record snowfalls, number of days snow has remained on the ground - 96  - at time of writing. The Ice Storm of last December  was a phenomenal event, the effects are still visible everywhere, in massive branches off the old trees, split limbs from birch and evergreen, and every tree has a carpet of of broken branches and twigs. Not clean breaks either, a split from top to bottom, leaving the inside exposed to the howling winds we have also endured.

The Ice Storm was exciting at first, the rattling of icey pellets against the windows. When we woke up next day, every branch and limb was coated in an inch of ice,a ll around the stems.  Tree branches were bowed to  the ground, with the weight of ice. The washing lines had serious sags, giving the birds a double take as they attempted to land. My gazebo frame was coated, birds landing skidded along the length, ending with a surprised squeak against the posts.

Birds had nowhere to perch, so I put our artificial greenery to use, for a place to land and observe.  Bird feeding became an expensive hobby, and curiously, Canadian birds don't know what to do with slices of bread!

My daughter lives in a suburb of Toronto, and her woes were even greater. The entire street had trees along its lengths, now it  looks like a WW1 battlefield, no branches,no promise of leafy cover for the summer, just the main trunks still standing, bare and stripped.

Then came the first of the snow, layer upon layer. At one time,our garden was a smooth, dazzling expanse  of pure, virgin snow. Our forsythia bush, probably eight feet high, was covered to within a foot of the top. Many shrubs have disappeared under snow cover, and it still keeps snowing!

If I was a pioneer, two hundred years ago, I would have been glad of my long skirts,to keep me warm. But dragging them through snow drifts, to feed livestock or fetch logs does not appeal. I talked with an elderly lady, she remembers 'father digging a tunnel from the house to the barn', in order to reach and feed the livestock. 

Then again, if I was a pioneer, the first thing to go would be the petticoats, corsets, bloomers,and the rest, because the humidity would make living unbearable with all those layers.

March has arrived, came in like a lamb. Hmm, what does it hold for us. I keep a weather diary, very anal I know, and March came in gently, sweetly last year. There was bare earth for birds to poke about in, and a few brave shoots were appearing. They cant find their way this year, they are under two feet of packed snow and below that, ice. Sochi should have been relocated here.

I think Branson should bring a planeload of kids over here, the virgin snow in the fields needs to be trampled upon, sleds utilized, skies echoing to screams of joy as kids hurtle down slopes.

Oh, and the Slice of Ice Quake. A play on words I think  that would be called.  Because during January, many of us were awoken by loud, vibrating bangs and booms. Quite scary,houses rattled with the force of the noise, and supposedly, cracks appeared in the snow.  They were in fact Ice Quakes,  caused by the thawing and cracking of ice underground. A never before experienced phenomenom.

So that was our winter, and not finished yet. I bought dahlia tubers to start indoors today. They may bloom by September, and then we have another winter to look forward to. Ho hum.

That was brilliant Kate!! Painted a real picture

The only info I got from my friend in Ontario was he was officially that mad Englishman - out in the snow with his snow blower in his shorts clearing his and neighbours drives LOL


Thanks for sharing your experiences. I enjoyed it very much. I guess that had you have been a pioneer 200 years ago experiencing weather like this for the first time, you would have turned around and returned from whence you came!

I always say that I love snow but I think it takes a special person to cope with conditions that severe. I guess that it is okay if you are able to carry on with your lives. For those that need to get out and about, life must be hard. I guess that plenty of people in the UK are feeling like that given the extensive flooding.

For our part, winter has been really good here but having said that we have had a bit of a cold snap and more snow has appeared on the mountains of Albania and Northern Greece overnight. We thought that it had almost gone but it is back with a vengeance.

Keep your musings coming! Not wanting to teach you to suck eggs but if you suffer power outages as frequently as we do, keep saving regularly. Better still, invest in a small UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) which will allow you to close your application and power the computer down gracefully!

Thanks again.


Kate, that was an excellent description of our winter (so far, I hasten to add. Donít want to tempt it to show what else it could unleash.) The poor battered trees do look like survivors of war. By now arborists bundled up like astronauts have been around and pruned a good many of them. Itís sad to see once majestic birches cut off at the knees.

ďMy gazebo frame was coated, birds landing skidded along the length, ending with a surprised squeak against the posts.Ē  Loved this!
Iíve got a squirrel that learned to jump onto my bird feeder from a tree bowed down by ice. He got enough practice that heís still doing it even though the branch is back up in its normal position.  The squirrel Olympics have been at least as entertaining as the ones on TV! Canít move the feeder as itís rooted in two feet of ice, so yes it is an expensive winter for bird feeding. But I canít stop as I see the birds out there waiting, and bunnies and once even a possum (poor creature deluded by global warming into migrating too far north) are eating under it too.

Very vivid description Kate! Ties in nicely with the amazing video posted on here = 'The Hunt' - incredible photography and the squirrel lives to see another day!
Looking out at our Corfu garden I can't believe that only a week or so ago it was bright with butterflies and spring flowers and alive with bird song - no more. The only sound is rainwater cascading off the balcony and the only bright colour comes from Alexis abandoned wellies. The flowers have folded their petals again, but where do the butterflies go in weather like this?
Thanks for another lovely set of Musings!


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