The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
February’s slush is giving way to March’s … slush? I recently heard an elderly lady remark that “This winter has been very unsatisfactory.” We have certainly experienced water in a variety of liquid and solid states. At present our garden is under water, but the ground is frozen so it’s possible that the garlic will survive.
The forest has also taken a beating. Many tall spruce trees, slender soft-hearted giants, found that the freezing rain and blustery winds were more than they could bear. One lies sprawled on the frozen ground, undignified, naked roots up-turned and exposed like a maze; while another has toppled onto its neighbors and is being held up by a gnarled apple tree, veteran of a hundred years war with nature.
The farmer goes along the hedgerows clearing the deadfall, his chain saw screaming and echoing across the landscape. No farmer has ever been able to say, “Now I’m done, I can relax.” Even in winter there is always something to do.
Whether you are a farmer, or a grand old tree living out your life on the edge of the woods, life in Northern climes has always required a special kind of courage. In an interview during the Olympics, freestyle mogul silver medalist Justine Dufour-Lapointe said something like this: “I’m proud to show the strength that Canadians have, to withstand the cold…” We don’t have one word to describe this, but maybe we should.
At the supermarket checkout recently, a magazine headline caught my eye: “Beat the winter blues with Swedish Happiness Secrets.” I wonder what those secrets might be. I am Swedish and spent my whole childhood surrounded by Swedish people, and I’m pretty sure that none of these worthy folks thought they had any happiness secrets. Life was hard in rural Alberta and everyone was just making the best of things.
For Christmas you may have been given “The Little Book of Hygge” that lets you in on Danish Happiness Secrets. Denmark consistently gets #1 world ranking for happiness so the Danes must know something. Hygge is “the intimacy you create several times a day, on purpose, in order to make life bearable or even very good.” It involves a lot of food, candles and warm slippers.—Hey, on the Island we do hygge pretty well.
The Finnish people talk about Sisu: “Stamina and courage held in reserve for hard times.” It’s a great word, although not exactly a Finnish Happiness Secret. I think that most Canadians possess sisu in abundance, as does our flora and fauna. Certainly those fallen spruce trees had plenty of courage until—well, it wasn’t their fault that they blew over. Their feet were wet, the ground was soft, then along came a nor’easter and over they went. Very unsatisfactory.
But the earth will dry up soon. Baby spruce trees will appear as if by magic to take their parents’ place, and this winter will become a distant memory. Hang in there! Bon courage!