Whither the weather

The holidays are a time to be with family and good friends. To share the love and respect we have for one another. To demonstrate through the giving of gifts and sharing of favorite foods the depths of our connection.

The holidays often require that travel is made to be with family and friends.

And travel is often to locales with weather differing drastically from what is for many years now normal and accustomed to. Requiring the packing of heavy sweaters, long underwear, parkas and woolen socks alongside the Christmas gifts.

This holiday travel was to the homeland of Ontario, Canada. Near the border with the french province of Quebec. Where the surroundings are often the perfect backdrop to Christmas festivities. Truly a winter wonderland with fir trees covered in billowy white snow and ice shimmering under the sun…but wait…Sun? What sun?!


The Weather in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada

Dec 22 Cloudy with snow flurries high of -11 deg C

Dec 23 Cloudy with snow flurries -5 deg C
Dec 24 Cloudy, ice rain, 0 deg C

Dec 25 Cloudy, ice rain mixed with snow flurries -1 deg C

Dec 26 Cloudy with snow flurries 0 deg C

Dec 27 Cloudy +1 deg C

Dec 28 Cloudy with snow flurries -1 deg C

Dec 29 Cloudy with snow flurries -12 deg C

Dec 30 Cloudy with snow flurries -8 deg C

Dec 31 Cloudy with snow flurries -4 deg C

Jan 1 Cloudy with snow flurries -3 deg C

Jan 2 Cloudy with snow flurries -9 deg C

Jan 3 Cloudy with snow flurries -8 deg C

Jan 4 Cloudy with snow flurries -8 deg C

Jan 5 Cloudy with snow flurries -6 deg C

Jan 6 Cloudy with snow flurries -6 deg C

Jan 7 Cloudy -7 deg C

Jan 8 Cloudy with snow flurries -8 deg C

Jan 9 Sunny! -12 deg C

Jan 10 Cloudy with light snow -6 deg C

Jan 11 Cloudy with snow flurries -3 deg C

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Tarnsnopsitoin

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Small Town Big Heart

I’m spending Christmas and New Years with my family in eastern Canada. In the snow and ice of a typical Canadian winter. The beauty of a Canadian winter is something to behold, particularly in the countryside where time is being spent. Snow and ice on tree boughs twinkle like diamonds and farmers’ fields lay quiet and expansive under their white shroud. Christmas lights on trees and homes are reflected on the glistening snow and ice. It all makes quite an impression.
Something else that is making an impression on me is the tiny town of Vankleek Hill, Ontario – the same town where I spent my childhood. It is apparent that this town’s people have a kindness and generosity of spirit not experienced elsewhere. Certainly, the expression about not being able to go home again wasn’t penned by anyone who grew up here.
Take for example the woman, the friend of my cousin, whom I just met while visiting at her lovely home: upon hearing that my winter parka had gone missing, she offered her daughter’s long and cozy winter coat. Her daughter, she explained, only needed it when she visited (much like in the current circumstance). At first I thought this too generous an offer to accept, but it was clear that she was genuine in her desire to be helpful. The coat is much appreciated and makes long walks on cold and snowy days possible and quite enjoyable.
A community member died recently. While at a gathering, I heard that one of the women was busy all morning making sandwiches for the mourners. When I said, “I didn’t know you were related to that family,” she clarified that she is not, but that a group of community members had done this beautiful thing as a matter of course, regardless of their relationship to the deceased.
Before this all starts to sound idyllic, it bears stating that there are misunderstandings and petty grievances here like there are anywhere. And in a town with less than 2000 residents, one also must get used to their business being a matter of public scrutiny more often than it would be in a larger community. But it certainly seems, as one travels from place to place in town, that the simple life being led by the majority of Vankleek Hillians, makes them a happier, more compassionate group.
Why might this be? Is there something that they are doing that makes them this way? Is it peculiar to this area, the province or this country?
Most of the people in this area are Scottish descendents who came here in the late 18th century when the land they had farmed for generations was “cleared” of its long-term resident farmers so that the presumed owners could practice increasingly profitable sheep farming.
Displaced from their homes, often without notice and violently, they made the long and arduous journey by ship to the growing colonies in the US and Canada in the hope of finding a better life. Upon their arrival, many discovered that there was land available, for free, from the fledgling Canadian government, on which they could settle and farm. Moreover, they could own the land – something that in Scotland had been denied them and their fore bearers.
For over 200 years the Scottish settlers and their descendents have farmed in eastern Canada. The area around Vankleek Hill is surrounded by farms owned by these Scots. The streets and surrounding villages bear their names and their dying language (Gaelic). They did indeed find what they were looking for in Canada, and rather than let a history of pain and dispossession consume them with anger, they have created an atmosphere full of care and respect – a better life for anyone who would live among them.
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More information on Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada
More information on the Scottish Highland Clearances
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