Friday, December 27, 2013

Another Christmas "C' Word.... Cold! - Part One

Where to start???

Christmas was singlehandedly shaped... like frost on a window pane by a fierce and crippling ice storm which quite literally encrusted Rockport... and all of Ontario into a beautiful, but potentially deadly ice- shrouded world of thick crystal. While one could admire the visual beauty of the landscape itself... that feeling was short-lived in the wake of the crippling cold of -22C. The paradox created by the presence of the two made the situation very difficult to assimilate... it so seamlessly blended both beauty and fear.

The absence of electrical power commencing at 6:10 am on the morning of December 21st across Ontario quickly chilled and evaporated any thoughts of a "Winter Wonderland." The ensuing cold was bone chilling and the blackness disorienting. It was obvious that these conditions were not in any way going to be temporary... so it was necessary to go into a survival mode approach to daily life... immediately. And we did!

Ironically... as you might recall, we faced this very same cold and light-less pre-Christmas scenario last year, when Allison, Andrew and Lisa had come to join us in Rockport for a Sherman Christmas. We more than survived the event and actually enjoyed the situation... finding a truer and more memorable take on the true meaning of Christmas - Family! This year... Bryn and Liam were to join us here and were to arrive by bus in Kingston on the evening of December 22nd. Needless to say... reaching Kingston in either direction was unsafe and absolutely out of the picture. We were all quite simply... iced in... and helpless to move. Every action would need to be directed towards finding necessary heat, light, fresh water and food. Nothing else mattered... and technology could not provide the solutions to these needs.

Fortunately... the media had projected the storm's coming and given our dilemma last year, Deb and I headed into nearby Gananoque on December 20th... a full day ahead of the storm and got the supplies we thought that we might need to carry us for an extended period until power could be restored. Those purchases included three cases of bottled water... a variety of hearty soups... packages of wieners... bread and buns, extra tea lights, candles, a 6 volt battery for our large emergency light. Deb had already made a lovely quiche for Allison's planned visit on Dec 22nd. So we were well stocked in these basic essentials.

I spent extra time on the wood pile, preparing a goodly supply of fireplace-ready wood and kindling. I went down to the bowels of our basement and resurrected my trusty aluminum camp coffee maker, a light aluminum camping set of pots, two sleeping bags and my trusty LED hat light which snaps on the brim of my ball cap. All that remained to be done was to fire up the fireplace with a substantial bed of coals to keep the fireplace at work... and I knew... that in this deep cold that our air tight stove would be voraciously hungry... but more than up to the heating task. By late afternoon, we were well prepared for our "pioneer re-enactment"... HA HA!! Deb even melted snow atop the firebox to provide hot water for doing dishes and hygienic purposes. I will skip the set up I created to handle "waste management". Suffice it to say that it worked ... and despite having no pump to deliver water to our bathrooms... it didn't hang around long! HA HA!!!

Being placed in this redefined daily lifestyle really drove home a cogent thought as I sat immersed in the cheery glow of the fireplace. Despite our advanced state of modern technology and dependency upon electronic gadgetry to perform for us and to entertain us... sustenance really comes down to the five essentials for survival: Light, warmth, fresh water, food and shelter.It hasn't changed at all really... since humankind first walked upright and huddled collectively in caves around a primordial fire. For two consecutive days... we faced that absolute reality. I gained a greater respect for the first settlers and residents of Rockport who eked out a living along this vast river....basically cut off and alone in their world without roads, telephones, medicine or the promise of a better tomorrow really. It must have been a challenge just to survive... and they did... just as we have.

Here is a montage of photos to provide you some visual insight of our experience. I know that the beauty bedazzles... but think..... COLD! BRRRRRRRRRRR!

Beneath the icy arches lies The Boat House Restaurant.... no meal service till Spring!

Our "Islesview" Ice Palace... winter-locked!

Welcome to Rockport... the Crystal Palace of the Thousand Islands!

Looking down into Rockacpulco... no tourist traffic today...  or visitors to The Paint Box Gallery on the extreme right!

Birches... bowed in prayer? Yes... praying for release from the weight of their icy head dresses!

 An elm casualty at my daughter Lisa's. Just missed the studio!

Maple snowflakes!

Blue skies... what a blaze of colour and light! Breath-taking!

 Icy Altar Screen for St Brendan's RC Church

Fire n' Ice...

Narrow's Lane Ice Road

A tough ol' shag bark hickory loses the battle at Lisa's Ice storm 2- Lisa 0!!!

It snowed yesterday and today... causing more damage. Hoping it will end and that the wind won't enter the picture. Roads are once again safe to travel. My hat is off to the gutsy and dedicated road and hydro crews that pulled our bacon out of the fire in record time. AS I speak... at least 100,000 + residents of Toronto are still without power and necessities five days later. A cold and dastardly Christmas memory for them. My thoughts and prayers are with them... many of them elderly!

I did manage two small attempts to satisfy my art urge in the candle light. I have another piece on the easel that you will enjoy... whenever I can get to it!

Allison's best Pals salute "Her"!!!

My card and Ice Storm Commemorative envelope for my SweetHeart... and Pioneering Pal Deb! Sorry about the "flip out"!!

Until then... Stay warm! Stay safe!... and.. Stay tuned!

Good Painting... to ALL!!


  1. Hi Bruce, I read today in our newspaper that Canada and America were suffering ice storms and had no electricity. Very hard to grasp being very cold and without electricity for too long. You sound very well prepared which is half the battle won. In England 30,000 folk are without electricity and are flooded due to the severe gales that have been blowing on and off for what seems like days. We had very strong gales here but so far we have been OK. The electricity is still on though the lights have been flickering a bit! Seems the gales are going to be something we will have to get used to and that will mean being as organised as you and Debs with a plan of action! Thank you for sharing your news and I hope the power will stay on long enough for you to get a warm meal. best wishes to you.

  2. Good morning Caroline!... We did fare better than places like Toronto... where 100,000+ are still without power. Power crews have worked wonders to clean up the broken tree debris to get at the problem. It requires actually going house to house to undo the maze of damage to the downed wires.

    I have been watching the flooding in the UK and the havoc that has been placed before people in the south west of England. So much damage and at such a critcal time.

    Wind will be the enemy now. Fingers crossed during the melting off that will occur during the weekend thaw forecast. Hopefully it will not trigger more downed trees and the loss of power once again. We maintain our supply of easy to prepare foods... and the fire in the fireplace.

    We had a wonderful pork loin Christmas dinner together. The turkey keeps his frozen vigil in the freezer until perhaps the New Year celebration. No big deal! We're warm and happy!

    Thanks for dropping by and our chat!

    Stay warm and safe your self Caroline! Happy New Year to you!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Bruce, say it isn't so...I can't imagine you flipping out ever! LOL Me, on the other hand...well, to say it is expected is probably truer than I care to admit. LOLOL So glad you got through this ice storm intact, for the most part. I do remember your photos from last year and you made it look easy and cozy. I remember an ice storm when I lived in WA and I was without power for 3 days. Stayed with a girlfriend one night on her couch. Stayed in a hotel room the second night. But it sure is a beautiful phenomenon, isn't it? Your photos prove that. I hope everyone came through unscathed.

  4. Hi Sherry!... Thanks for stopping by and for your interest! We're A-okay here and back to normal... whatever that is these days! HA HA!!

    When we are faced with these interrruptions to our "too cozy" life styles... it is a little inconvenient for most of us. But for some folks... like those in Toronto who may continue not to have power until the New Year... it is stressful to say the very least and for our elderly... downright life-threatening. My heart breaks for them because they are vulnerable and can't even get around.

    Have a Happy New Year! Stay safe... and warm!

    Warmest regards,

  5. WOW!!! thanks for taking us on your survival journey my friend!! i'm so glad you were prepared. the photos are simply gorgeous. one tends to forget the difficulty in keeping warm and safe when looking at their beauty. so so glad you all are good, warm and safe. i love you cards by candlelight! you might consider making them a series! Happy Holidays my friend to you and yours!

  6. Hi there Suz!.... Thanks for your encouraging visit and remarks!

    It's true Suz... we live in such a "taken-for-granted" world of plenty and truly often stop to realize the bounty that is ours on a daily basis. Being safe... living free... with a full stomach and being able to follow our individual dreams are gifts that few others on our earth can enjoy... even briefly.

    I am ever grateful and rarely lose sight of giving thanks to those that love and protect me... and never more gratefully than when that comfort is jeopardized... even for a few hours or days! We have enjoyed another wonderful Christmas together,,, the two of us and that is what matters. It is my greatest blessing!

    Have a Happy... Healthy... bountiful and prosperous New Year Suz! I much appreciate our Friendship!

    Much Peace!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards

  7. Hi Bruce, I'm glad you got through unscathed. It's a pity you had to change your Christmas plans, but there's always another time for a party.

    We often think of the power workers too. They do a difficult and dangerous job in tough conditions, and don't get a lot of recognition for it.

    I hope things warm up for you soon, and that you are able to get back to normality for the New Year.

    All the best,

  8. Hi there Keith!... Thanks for your visit and caring remarks!

    Like so many of the folks who offer service to our daily lives... power workers risk life and limb each and every single time they climb up a pole, or ride up in a box to clear away lines. My hat is off to them... especially on this occasion.!

    Yoiu know Keith... as strange as it might sound... this Christmas was a special party that brought Deb and I together closer as a couple... (of pioneers... HA HA) and a team. We truly enjoyed ourselves. All of the children made their very own personal Christmases as well... so no losers this year!

    I spent an hour at my easel this evening on a special project Keith. Stay tuned...

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,