I had been living in the old farmhouse overlooking the Bay of Fundy for nearly two years when we got married that summer.
When I bought the farmhouse, barn, and 140 acres in the late spring of 1971, the house was pink. A lot of work had gone into making it sort of livable.
By the time we got back from North Carolina after a summer of getting ourselves and friends married, the huge garden was so weedy that I had to mow between the rows before I could till them. Learning how to garden, preserve food, and make hay was all part of the experience of living in Nova Scotia that still makes me fondly remember those first few years right after college.
We lived in the little village of Saint Croix Cove between the small harbor towns of Hampton and Port Lorne. It was a long ride into Bridgetown for any groceries or supplies. Bridgetown did not even have a supermarket in those days. At the time the road along the shore was dirt. My first two winters there I had been amazed at how we could get a storm that would start out as snow, change to rain, and back to snow. The road would go from frozen solid with snow drifts to mud to frozen ruts dusted with snow all in twenty-four hours.
September is one of the special months in the Maritimes. People are cleaning up their gardens and getting ready for the winter. We were working away at the remnants of the garden while my new wife battled homesickness as all her friends were over 1,200 miles away. Our old farmhouse with hand-hewn beams was a work in process and very different from the modern apartment in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she lived before I convinced her to come to Nova Scotia.
Fortunately, we had added a brick chimney and a stone fireplace the first winter because in September of 1973 a surprise snow storm hit us. We got almost a foot of heavy wet snow. Not only did it take the power out, but it also blocked our link with the town, the shore road. Luckily, we had enough wood cut to keep warm. We also had some kerosene lamps for light. We managed to cook what we needed over the fire in our fireplace.
Joe, one of our neighbors who had made his living herding sheep, figured out that he could take the bar off his chainsaw and use it run our belt driven pumps so we could have some water. My wife remembers sitting by the fire and finishing an afghan that she had started at some time during college.
It was a tough introduction to Nova Scotia for my wife, but we are still married over forty years later. I remember the power being out for several days. What made us the happiest was the snow plow finally clearing the road. For anyone who has never lived in an isolated settlement, it is hard to properly describe how excited you can get with the big road grader with a mounted V-plow comes roaring through the night with lights flashing and snow swirling around it. It looks like an alien spaceship, but it is certainly a welcome sight after a big storm.
There were several more snow storms the first winter for my wife. She got see some of the more traditional Nova Scotia snow that often blows from one shore of the province to other as the wind changes. Our old house was very hard to heat and she still complains about having to plan her showers for days when the wind was not blowing so she would not freeze.
I still remember nearly freezing my cheeks cross-country skiing down the big field behind our farmhouse. Those Nova Scotia times still linger with us. The beautiful blue waters of North Carolina's Crystal Coast and the rural nature of Carteret County with its surrounding Croatan National Forest, Bogue Sound, and Cape Lookout National Seashore are good reminders.
You can read more about how we got to Nova Scotia and a recent trip back in our book, A Taste for the Wild - Canada's Maritimes. The cover picture is my wife with Tok, one our Labrador Retrievers, in the big hay field behind the house overlooking the Bay Fundy.