If you've visited our blog in the hope of finding a sailing story, you may want to skip this post. We've done no sailing since October, and unfortunately, we haven't even had time to write about the end of last year's sailing season. Before we start writing about this year's adventures, I feel compelled to at least fill in a few gaps.
A lot has happened in our lives since we wrote about our visit to Tunisia. We made some pleasant stops along the coast of Sicily during the month of September. Then we returned to Marina di Ragusa, where we had Aisling hauled for some maintenance. At that point we thought we had finished sailing for the season, so it was a lovely surprise when our friends Ni and Krissy invited us to sail with them on their catamaran Finalmente to Malta, where we rendezvoused with Chris and Sandra on Deep Blue. We had a wonderful time touring Malta, enjoying the fantastic hospitality and accommodations on Finalmente and the company of good friends. The highlight of the trip was watching the start of the Middle Sea race from the ramparts of Valletta. On second thought, maybe the highlight was actually the wonderful sailing, with Finalmente covering the distance between Marina di Ragusa and Malta in 8 hours, despite relatively light winds.
But as everyone knows, life can change from happy to sad in a flash. Shortly after we arrived back in Marina di Ragusa, we learned that Rick's mother had died. We packed our bags and boarded the flight for home with heavy hearts. The family gathered in Halifax for a funeral that was truly a celebration of a life well lived. After the funeral we hosted a traditional baked beans and ham dinner at our house. Then everyone returned to their respective corners of the globe, and thus began a long and difficult winter.
There were some bright spots. Our daughter Katherine and her husband Martin lived with us for four months while they renovated their new house, and we had our entire family around the dinner table most nights of the week. Martin's parents, Eloi and Madeleine even joined us for a few days. Christmas and New Years' were a whirlwind of family gatherings and socializing. In late January we hosted a lively goodbye dinner for our friends Nancy and Bob, who were flying to New Zealand for a two-month vacation.
But in early February, life got even sadder when Rick's father died very suddenly of pneumonia. Once again, the family gathered in Halifax for a funeral. This time, the snow in the cemetery was so deep that we had difficulty walking to the grave site.
Meanwhile, as we struggled to come to an understanding of how much our lives had changed, the weather kept getting worse. A heavy snowfall was followed by an ice storm that deposited a thick layer of ice on the sidewalks. Then came a series of snowstorms and blizzards that seemed never-ending. It snowed and snowed. Eventually, there was so much snow that we couldn't find places to put it. The city of Halifax began to look a set for the scenes at The Wall on Game of Thrones. The banks at the end of our driveway towered over our heads, creating a tunnel-like effect that made it impossible to see oncoming traffic when we tried to drive into the street. With sidewalks impassable, pedestrians took to the streets. Accident rates soared. Everyone joked about the "Snowpocalypse" and "Snowmageddon" but eventually it ceased to be humorous.
Imagine how this flock of cedar waxwings must have felt when they arrived, expecting to find spring. Luckily, a few old apples clinging to the tree in our back yard provided them with a few meals.
Finally, we decided we'd had enough, and booked tickets to return to Italy a month earlier than we usually do. The weather in Sicily would probably be rainy, but at least we'd be able to walk on the sidewalks! On the way, we stopped in Rome for a few days to visit our friends Barbara and Derek, who have spent the past five months in Trastevere. We had a wonderful time, but we'll write more about that in another post.
We're now back in Sicily, and staying in an apartment while Aisling remains on the hard waiting to have Coppercoat applied to her hull. Progress with the work seems to be painfully slow, but we're OK with that. And when the wind comes up and the Sicilians complain about "brutto tempo" (ugly weather) we just laugh and shrug. If only they knew!