The talk at the gen­eral store is the same, but dif­fer­ent

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - Rus­sell Wanger­sky

Peo­ple no­tice when things are dif­fer­ent.

Le­qui­lle Coun­try Store, up the hill from An­napo­lis Royal, N.S., brands it­self as an out­door spe­cial­ties store, but it’s ac­tu­ally some­thing else — a true gen­eral store.

It’s some­thing you don’t see so much any­more.

It’s got a red enam­elled metal roof, an at­tached build­ing with farm sup­plies and live­stock feed.

It has the fine smell of cured ham, a glass-fronted counter full of smoked meats, and it sells ev­ery­thing from gas to soft drinks to fire­works and firearms. Nails. Work gloves. Bread.

Some­one is at the counter buy­ing fresh-sliced ba­con. It gets wrapped in red butcher’s pa­per, tied with string.

And the talk is about the weather, about how it’s dif­fer­ent. An el­derly man, a big guy with broad shoul­ders that have known hard work, says, “Bet­ter have those kids now, with ev­ery­thing chang­ing.” He’s talk­ing to a woman at the counter.

“I don’t think that’s the plan,” the clerk says. Rain smacks the metal roof, stops, starts again.

They’ve talked about the strange cold and frost a week or so ago in Nova Sco­tia, the pic­tures of the June snow in New­found­land.

Ev­ery­one talks about the weather.

That doesn’t mean they are nec­es­sar­ily talk­ing about cli­mate change, but what’s in­ter­est­ing is how of­ten they’re talk­ing about how un­usual things are, how dif­fer­ent from nor­mal mem­ory.

Like how a con­stant strong, cold wind from the north this spring has brought cold wa­ter deep down into New­found­land’s north-fac­ing bays, one Con­cep­tion Bay North lob­ster fish­er­men say­ing his sea­son has been far worse be­cause, “the lob­sters aren’t mov­ing and you have to drop the trap right on top of them.”

A busi­ness op­er­a­tor in An­napo­lis Royal tells us how the killer frost de­stroyed a farm­ing friend’s en­tire straw­berry crop, the berries al­most ready to pick when the tem­per­a­ture plunged.

“It wasn’t just frost, it was well be­low freez­ing,” he says. Crop in­sur­ance will cover some of the farmer’s losses, “but he’ll only break even, if he’s lucky … He’s got peaches, plums. But they got hit, too.” One year is sur­viv­able. Two? Not so much.

The weather map comes on in a dark­ened ho­tel bed­room and even with be­ing able to hear the fore­caster talk­ing, I can see the deep dip of the jet stream, well south of the foot of Nova Sco­tia, the way cold air is fin­ger­ing down in a fat pulse, some­thing that wouldn’t hap­pen if the jet stream was hold­ing its usual strength and sweep­ing west to east.

The ho­tel is wait­ing for sum­mer’s warmth. Only brave chil­dren are in the heated ho­tel pool.

The tran­si­tion from wa­ter to towel is too much to take.

An old fam­ily friend points out my fa­ther, an oceanog­ra­pher, was pre­dict­ing these changes 30 years ago.

That’s true, I know — but then, it’s wasn’t some­thing that at­tracted so much pub­lic at­ten­tion in those days. I re­mem­ber read­ing about how we should ex­pect ex­actly this — more vi­o­lent weather, more un­ex­pected weather, higher winds, larger rain­falls. Heat waves that stall and can kill, ei­ther through heat or su­per­cell storms.

Cold fronts dip­ping from a steadily warm­ing Arc­tic. Watch­ing all of that play in the last few years in flood­ing and in­fra­struc­ture de­struc­tion, in­sur­ance losses due to the fact that storm wa­ter cul­verts aren’t big enough. In­sur­ance com­pa­nies know it. Oil com­pa­nies know it. Gov­ern­ments know it.

Now, it’s part of the pub­lic lex­i­con. Part of the daily dis­cus­sion.

And still, the di­nosaurs say this be­cause they can’t — or won’t — con­sider any­thing ex­cept what they want to be­lieve. That’s OK, as long as they aren’t pres­i­dents, I guess. The rest of us?

Bet­ter have those kids now.

It has the fine smell of cured ham, a glass-fronted counter full of smoked meats, and it sells ev­ery­thing from gas to soft drinks to fire­works and firearms. Nails. Work gloves. Bread.

Rus­sell Wanger­sky East­ern Pas­sages Rus­sell Wanger­sky’s col­umn ap­pears in 39 Saltwire news­pa­pers and web­sites in At­lantic Canada. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@thetele­gram. com — Twit­ter: @wanger­sky.

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