Mournful, muggy day

It isn’t often lately we’ve had a rainy day. This afternoon as I motored along the Appleton Side Road and onto the 4-lane ribbon of highway leading to Stittsville – my customary outing for a drive and a car wash – I marvelled at the unique features of the drizzly day. The mist had settled like a vignette upon the surrounding landscape. The roads glistened in the gentle rain forming a mirrored pathway before me. The adjacent grass and corn fields were uncommonly green and lush. The inspirational music of German classical pianist Florian Christl corresponded appropriately to my lingering consumption of mandatory Sunday music. Even the cars behind me held back a discrete distance and, like I, appeared to be in no hurry. Escaping the urgent traffic of the business week afforded a welcome privacy and calm.

There are many artistic manifestations of a rainy day.  Most frequently the rain is equated with misery – though I hardly think the local farmers adopt that particular mood. Images of lonely country roads and sodden gravestones covered in moss are not uncommon. My most compelling recollections of a rainy day derive from the time I spent at law school in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The spiffing feature of rain in Halifax is that, being as we were adjacent the Herculean North Atlantic Ocean, it was but a matter of moments before the wind swept away the grey skies and disclosed once again the azure ceiling. Nothing topped the pleasure of a cleansed atmosphere from Citadel Hill overlooking the yacht basin and outer reaches of the sea.

Citadel Hill is a hill that is a National Historic Site in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Four fortifications have been constructed on Citadel Hill since the city was founded by the English in 1749, and were referred to as Fort George—but only the third fort (built between 1794 and 1800) was officially named Fort George. According to General Orders of October 20, 1798, it was named after King George III. The first two and the fourth and current fort, were officially called the Halifax Citadel.

In those days I hadn’t an automobile so for example I contented myself to observe the driving rain sheltered indoors from the kitchen window of Domus Legis, the law fraternity where I resided on Seymour Street in my first year of studies. Traditionally I accompanied the pensive endeavour with a cup of Nescafé instant coffee and a Winston cigarette.

Nestlé began developing a coffee brand in 1930, at the initiative of the Brazilian government, to help to preserve the substantial surplus of the annual Brazilian coffee harvest. Max Morgenthaler led the development project. Nestlé introduced the new product under the brand name “Nescafé” on 1 April 1938.

It would be misleading to suggest the entire absorption was without its melancholy. My first year at law school in Halifax was lonely.  I had come from Toronto where resided the bulk of my prep school and undergraduate comrades. In Halifax I knew no one. Although my application to Osgoode Hall in Upper Canada had been accepted I chose instead to pursue my legal studies at Dalhousie University, the seat of the oldest law school in the British Empire including England.  At the time however the more apparent distinction between the two schools was that my late father was a maritimer, a graduate of University of New Brunswick. I thought to extend my ancestry accordingly. But despondency overtook me. After my first year I reapplied to Osgoode Hall and was again accepted.  Dean Murray Fraser of Dalhousie Law School got wind of my proposed removal and asked me to stay. It was most certainly a singular intervention I hadn’t anticipated.  I naturally withdrew the application to Osgoode Hall and – to my everlasting thanks – remained in Halifax.