Diverse may be an understatement for the weather in Ingonish.
Ingonish don't quite get all four seasons in one day, but it would be fair to say that Spring, Summer and Fall could all happen in a day! While we have countless gorgeous, warm and sunny days, there can also be lots of foggy mornings and dramatic storms.
Long before European settlers came to Cape Breton Island, its original inhabitants recognized the unique weather of this island. The Mi’kmaq people's name for Cape Breton is Unama’ki, which loosely translates to "The Land of the Fog".
French fishermen working these waters in the mid 1500's marked present day Cape Smokey, Ingonish on maps with the words fumdos, fumides, and fumos, all from the Latin "fumus", meaning smoke, steam or vapours. Later maps call the mountain, Cap Enfumé. So, if anything, our foggy history is well-established.
As you can imagine, we like talking about the variety of weather we receive and we have developed some unique ways to describe it.
For fog, you might hear things like;
- "The fog's as thick as molasses. "
- " She's a moody one today."
- "Fog's thicker than pea soup"
- "Fogs so thick, you can't see your hand in front of ya"
And for rain;
- "Beautiful day, for a duck!"
- "It's spittin'"
- 'Bit of rain" (note that this last one is delivered with no small bit of sarcasm)
- "It's a scorcher"
- "Some weather we're havin'... "
This last phrase can be used in relation to any type or weather - good, bad, hot, cold, wet, or dry.
It's also not just WHAT we say about the weather, but HOW we say it. If you want to talk about the weather like a local, you can't just say the words, it's a full body exercise. You must shake your head, slowly for emphasis, and inhale WHILE you talk for full effect.
We even have activities we engage in for certain types of weather. For example, you know how surfers chase storms to catch big waves? We do the same, but different. We buy "storm chips" to snack on when the weather turns bad, and in case you're wondering what we're talking about, storm chips are just five or six different kinds of chips all mixed together!
Most importantly of all, here at Cape Smokey, we are really into phrases about snow. We get super excited when Ingonish gets the first "skiff" of snow, we hope we get "buried" in it and we love it when it is "steep and deep".
We may not have as many words for snow as the Inuit in our far north, with over fifty different words for snow or the Sami of Northern Finland with over 180 words for snow. But we really do like our snow!