Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Listen to: When the Snow is on the Roses
On Sunday I hosted Thanksgiving supper for my family. My son was home for the first time for this holiday since he started University four years ago.  My husband's parents were there - his father having recently been released from hospital for a mysterious fainting spell for which the test results have not been received yet.  My sister and brother-in-law were also there.  Usually I get to skip out on making the turkey dinner as my sister with her well appointed dining room, does the honours.  She and her husband were still recovering from a nasty cold bug so she was quite happy to share our meal in my tiny eat-in kitchen.

Quite prominent in the thanksgiving toasts, besides the happiness of good health and being together, was the fact that we were able to eat a hot meal in the light and warmth of modern electricity.  We had just endured a 24+ hour power outtage due to an unexpected early snowstorm.  Both my mother-in-law and myself had been stuck on the highway due to an accident ahead of us (separate incidents).  I ended up being towed off the highway and had to wait for someone with 4-wheel drive to take me home.  People with wood stoves were able to keep warm and heat their food, but my home didn't have that luxury.  At least I had phone service, as I still have a land line.  People with cordless phones were suddenly incommunicado.  My iPhone with 3G still worked for several hours but eventually there was no cell service either.  I had never felt so isolated in my life!

The view from my dashboard as I was being towed

After an idyllic summer and the late arrival of Fall, Winter sprang upon us with no warning. 
Here was the view from my cottage last weekend, when the temperature was around 24 degrees Celsius.
Luckily my husband decided to pull the boat out
Here is the same scene exactly one week later
Note the snow covered boat and squashed willow tree from the heavy snow.

This weather has brought me to mind of the first historical incidences of Thanksgiving in North America.  It seems that survival from the harsh elements is quite a Canadian theme.  Martin Frobisher, (1539-1594) was an English explorer and privateer who was looking for the Northwest Passage to by pass North America on the way to the riches of the East Indies. Of course, he was not successful, but he was so grateful to survive his third journey across the Atlantic that he celebrated a service of Thanksgiving in 1578 on Baffin Island in Canada's eastern Arctic at the bay which now bears his name.

I couldn't resist this.  Can you see the resemblance?  

Sir Martin Frobisher by Cornelis Ketel, c. 1577
RA as Martin Frobisher

Then in 1605 Samuel de Champlain (fondly known as the Father of New France) founded the Order of Good Cheer. It was basically a weekly feast and kitchen party that lasted all winter long. The idea was to keep everyone's spirits up and share food during the long, harsh winter at their settlement at Port-Royal in the Annapolis Valley of present day Nova Scotia.

According to Wikipedia, "no authentic portrait of Champlain is known to exist".  But his likeness is usually shown as similar to the drawing on the left.  I used a Face-in-Hole portrait of Rene Descartes (who is dressed in a similar fashion) for my purposes. Doesn't he seem to be in Good Cheer?

Samuel de Champlain by Albert Descaris
RA as Samuel de Champlain

In Champlain's own words (translated from French), here is how he describes it in his diary:
We spent this winter very pleasantly, and had good food because of the Order of Good Cheer which I established. Everyone found it beneficial to his health, and better than any medicine we might have used. A chain was placed around the neck of one of our men every day. It was his job that day to go hunting. The next day the chain was given to someone else, and so on in order. Everyone competed to see who could do the best, and bring back the finest game. We did not come off badly, nor did the Indians who were with us.

The Order of Good Cheer by C.W. Jeffreys

Here is my wish for all of us:

May we all be warm, well fed and happily entertained 
in the company of good friends and family.

And now, if you have read this far, I do thank you.
For your entertainment, here is a treat from Servetus, at Me + Richard Armitage blog.

A Collection of clips of RA saying "Thanks"  by refgeek


Anonymous said...

Phylly, I can't believe the weather change!
I hope that all within the family has a positive outcome and thank you for the witty pics!

Anonymous said...

The snow on the roses is such a poetic image. What a weekend, Phylly - thank goodness for landlines and 4X4 rescues! No snow here yet. But the microwave blew a gasket Fri., affecting a couple of other things. Two good results from this - confirmed it was better after all, to boil the sweet potatoes; spent X hours running up and down the stairs to identify each switch (turning off every circuit in turn.) But all the switches are now labelled - something that should have been done long ago! (nd lots of exercise along the way...:D

Love the two views from the cottage - quintessentially a Canadian change of season!

tereza tassuett said...

Hi, Phyllys,It´s a bit weird heard about it. Here we are in full spring and it´s very hot. I have always thought snow is the most beautiful thing in the nature. So I always see the romantic side of it. It´s very unusual( to us brazilian) that this sort of problem some day comes happen to any one .Only a few Brazilian states snow in winter,but this is a rare phenomenon. However I imagine you must have gone through bad moments inside the car with all that snow .Fortunatelly you weren´t alone at this time. The bright side of all this, it´s you could gather all your family in the Thanksgiving Day even with all this bad time

Collar City Brownstone said...

I love the first photo with the snow on the rose. I am not ready for snow but it continues to get colder here in Upstate New York. Soon we will have our first frost of the season.

I still have a landline phone too and always will. At home I do not answer my cell phone.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Phylly3 said...

@Mesmered - Yes, that weather change was pretty drastic and it looks as if the snow is here to stay too! I hate it when it snows before Halloween. This is certainly much earlier than most years. But I knew we were in for a rough winter!

Phylly3 said...

@Anonymous (It's fitzg, isn't it?) - I am glad you liked my pictures. They were all snapped with my iPhone.
I am glad you solved your power problem, so that your Thanksgiving supper was rescued. The power company was supposed to have a "planned power outage" next Sunday,but they'd have some nerve to shut down on us so soon on purpose!

Phylly3 said...

Hi Tereza - I would love to visit your country some day! I didn't realize that your seasons were the opposite of ours. Of course I did know you were much hotter.
Thank you for commenting! :)

Phylly3 said...

Hi Xenia,
I only use my cell phone for contacting my family, but I also love it as a mobile internet service, and camera, and flashlight, and amusement! I don't want to get rid of my landline anytime soon!
I hope you have good weather for your Thanksgiving celebrations. It will be solidly winter here then.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - been a wee bit "distrait" this week.Yes, fitzg. And the landline stays - forever. :D C-phones are nice. But. Even during major ice storms and earth tremors, there has always been dial-tone...

And the de Champlain, Frobisher etc pictures were great fun!


Servetus said...

My folks had snow this week too, but nothing like that. Stay safe. BTW I love the Frobisher and Champlain mashups -- I think there is something subconsciously swashbuckling about the guy. He just LOOKS early modern.

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