We're leaving the ms Maasdam, the ship that's ferrying us through the Atlantic, kinda early because we have a date with a horse-drawn carriage. That would be me, Karen and the kids, and Grandma Judy. Judy's being a good sport - she's wearing one of those yellow caps that I've seen on the carved figures of seamen at Fisherman's Wharf. I thought that was something you'd only see in San Francisco, but of course they had one of those carvings in Bar Harbor.
Seamen are everywhere, apparently.
As the glass door is blown open and the wind rushes over us, Judy grabs the yellow rain cap on her head and prevents it blowing away. I make a joke about nor'easters. I don't know what a nor'easter is, but I love the sound, and the chance to use it in a sentence? For real? I'm jumping on it.
One of the townies corrects me as he sees Judy keeping her cap in place. Sou'wester, he says.
It's later, much, when I discover that he was referring to the cap. Those little yellow slickers are sou'westers - the wind? Definitely nor'easter. So I was right, but didn't know it.
Before I know it, Allison, one of the nieces, hands her sou'wester to me. Aren't you going to wear it? I ask. She looks at me like the dumb uncle I am. Do you think, she says, that I'm going out in that? And she gestures to the wind and rain outside. But, she says, I want the hat back.
The problem with a horse-drawn carriage, in Halifax? Halifax is in freaking Nova Scotia, which is practically submerged in the Atlantic. And it's North. That means weather.
The two black beauties, Denver and Bob (and no - I can't believe Bob/Denver is pulling the coach, who knew they were funny in Canada?) are stamping their big black feet and snorting like horses do - the snorts turning into great plumes in the Halifax cold.
There are seventeen of us passengers loading onto the coach - that equals the numbers of family on the cruise, but except for Judy and us, they're all safely ensconced on the ship
Probably sipping Irish Coffees.
Because of the wind and rain - have I mentioned the wind and rain? - the have these flaps things strapped down on the sides of the carriage. The flaps are clear plastic, but when combined with the rain, streaking them in rope-thick rivulets, you can't actually see outside.
Which of course is the point of a freaking horse-drawn carriage ride through Halifax, but Ed, our guide, is oblivious to that.
The Scots are like that, I've heard.
Ed's telling us that the historical high for this day is 78, Celsius - and the low is 37. Also Celsius. With the wind chill, Ed tells us in his Scottish brogue, we're looking at about 37 today.
I'm taking this in just as he hands back the last of the blankets that they have for distribution. I worry that it won't make it back to me - I'm the biggest on this carriage, and have the last row of seats to myself. I guess I'm a Greek windblock for everyone else. So I worry that the blanket will be scooped up by someone else - but then Karen, god bless her, snags it and turns to hand it to me.
Of course, she has to hand it over the two old people in the row separating us, but hey - blood is thicker than water.
Until Karen looks at those two old people, then at me. I smile and reach my hand out. Karen smiles and hands the blanket, that beautiful giver of warmth, to the older lady in front of me. She says something to her, but of course I can't hear it over the freaking gale force winds.
All the while, Ed's continuing in his brogue - there to the left is the oldest church in Halifax.
Except of course you can't see the oldest church through the rainstreaked flap. Over there, he continues, just on the left again, is the Maritime Museum with artifacts from the Titanic. Halifax is where most of the bodies from that tragedy--
Except, again, you can't see the Maritime Museum.
Or the statue of Winston Churchill. Or the statue of a British sailor with his kip.
God bless Judy, Karen and the kids. They're just laughing up there. I can't hear a word they're saying. I did manage to catch the first words that Kristina shouted, just as we were climbing onto the carriage: Canada is too cold!
Later, I'll go to the Maritime Museum with Mark and Mary Ann and their kids - Laura, Julia, William and Robert. I'll stop grumbling about the weather when I see the Titanic deck chair they fished out of the drink. When I see the shoes they think belonged to the Unknown Child, buried with so many others in Halifax. Cold? Of course, I don't know what cold is. The Atlantic, the Atlantic is cold.
When we walk back to the Maasdam, and all the umbrellas are flipped inside-out by the wind, again and again, all I'm thinking is that a hot toddy would be quite nice.
I imagine Judy and Karen and the kids still laughing about the foolishness of heading out in the weather. Ah well, laughter is warming, too.