Every year I face the same tiring argument with my family and coworkers in May.
“This weather is ridiculous, it was never this cold in May before was it?”
And my answer is always the same: Yes, of course it was.
Its funny how Newfoundlanders have a tendency to brush aside their memories and FACTUAL evidence about the weather and fool themselves into believing our spring is on par with the rest of Canada. We are extremely dedicated to May 24 long weekend and yet none of us recall drinking beers by the tent in mittens and snow pants. We act as if we all have memories of 2-4 lounging in bikinis, tossing volleyballs and slurping brewkies under the hot sun.
It is the hefty duty of all Newfoundlanders to create an annual facade that we once had great weather in spring in order to remain dedicated to the island. We carry this illusion of grandeur with great importance EVEN though statistics and evidence has proven us wrong; we remain dedicated to the belief that “last spring was warmer than this, wouldn’it?”
In fact, the average high of May from 1981 to 2010 was a whopping 10 C and April made a shattering high of 6 for the same time period.
I wonder what would happen if we accepted the truth and realized that spring in Newfoundland is an utter turd. Would new activities and traditions pop up to tie us over until the sun appears in late July? Would people line up at the ferry to head to the mainland? No one will ever know because our denial has become our permanent reaction to the 1 degree weather during the month of April and May.
So what to do in Newfoundland when the spring weather has taken you for surprise and shockingly kept you inside? Nobody knows because all of our focus and events are in the winter OR summer. Let’s consider what we could be at during the fine days of April and May.
Did you see how close that freaking berg was to the shore in Ferryland? She was a beaut. Now Icebergs are no surprise to any of us, they are always in the background of our many adventures coast to coast. This Ferryland berg was was hella close to land and got global media attention.
It’s easy to find out which icebergs are on the go and popular with a simple search. Finding them however is usually a feat when given the classic Newfoundland run around. While searching for a beautiful chunk of ice in Flat Rock, the only directions available online were “behind Darryl’s parent’s house.”
There is now an app for iceberg tracking so you don’t get wrapped up in the local directions. Newfoundland’s own Brandy Gosse create “Iceberg Alley,” for whale and berg tracking. Check it out.
My parents used to drag us coast to coast on summer vacations, camping all around Newfoundland and hitting museums whenever we stopped. Sometimes you would find these treasures of historic value that stayed with you throughout time; other times you’d find landmarks that never should have become museums in the first place.
I have ventured many a museum that was the back of a local’s house littered in questionable mannequins. Those places become hilarious memories that leave mildew up your nostrils for days, but the historical facts are always pretty cool.
I am not just talking the Rooms, Newfoundland is littered with museums. We have well over a hundred. Of course take a whole day to go to The Rooms, it’s magnificent, but explore NL and take them in. One of my favourite memories is learning about Trinity through all the great museums and town halls and chatting with the great people of their experiences and life.
There is so much more to this province’s history than anyone has ever realized, especially on a rural level with so many artifacts and displays. From Gander’ Aviation, to Deer Lake’s Insectariums, to the St. John’s Wine Vaults, each town has its own distinct background that is worthy of learning.
Look up the ferry schedules going to and from the mainland of Newfoundland and visit a town off the coast for a day. Check out Fogo Island, it’s huge and beautiful with great food and that kickass cool hotel. Each shop has a story, each place has a piece of history and it’s truly breathtaking no matter what the weather.
Bell Island is such a unique experience because it brings old Newfoundland to life. Of course people still reside there and have their day to day, but there are chunks left behind that remain visible and will never be forgotten. Check out mines for a wonderful tour and take a moment for the view.
There are some pretty cool islands floating around Newfoundland and Labrador that can feel like a whole new place with a completely different view. Of course a day trip out to anywhere can be an adventure in itself, but it’s even more glorious to jump on a boat. If you got kids you can tell them you’re going on a wild and crazy trip. Plus the aforementioned bergs, you might see them while you float.
Coffee and Books
Sometimes when I am feeling the winter blues and I’m reflective as shit and say ‘what is this life we are living though? What is the point? Blah blah philosophy,’ I simply remind myself of coffee and books. No matter where you are from, our cold and dreary springs can be boasted with a trip to any used book store with a hot local coffee to go.
It can always be a different experience, with new books to explore and new flavours to try OR if you are a creature of habit, it’s a reminder of the good consistent shit that life is made of.
Plus these two options are usually helping support local businesses and giving back to the crap economy our island is facing.
Flea Markets, Yard Sales and Thrift Stores
I don’t ever wanna generalize our islanders as people who love a bargain, but I will say myself and most of the people I know love the crap out of our yard sales and any similar venue. Look how many thrift stores litter this island? It’s uncanny really if you think about how many people live here.
Growing up in Gander, our Saturdays where shook with early rises and coffees to go, with a ziplock bag full of change. We had to head out to the announcement board at town hall to find out where all the great yard sales were hosted. It was as constant to the weekend as Sunday dinner.
So take the time to explore the used book section, make an early bird list of yard sales and check out the flea markets for all the handmade crafts and jams. Cause you got about two more months until it’s really summer.
There is also sex and or video games. When that runs out, try acting as if last May had better weather and talk to other locals about this illusion to pass time.