Friday, November 28, 2008

Embracing FOG

There has been just one occasion since I've moved to Nanaimo on which I've thought, "Uh oh, what have I done?

I knew that, in moving from Alberta to Coastal British Columbia, I would be trading a continental climate for a temperate rainforest climate. Each has its advantages. Alberta has lots of blue skies and sunshine (but snow and cold winter temperatures). Coastal BC has milder winter temperatures (but, as the climate zone's name suggests, rainy winters).

Back in Alberta there had been many people who had retired to Coastal BC, just because it had milder winters. Some of them had enjoyed the coast, and had stayed on. But I knew of instances in which Albertans had simply not been able to take the grey winters, and had moved back to Alberta (or become snowbirds and gone to Arizona for the winters).

I loved the lush vegetation of the coast, and felt confident that the surroundings that appealed to me so much would compensate for the rainy winters. When I'd lived in Melbourne for two and a half years, I'd experienced a sort of Mediterranean climate with drizzly winters. I'd survived those winters, so felt sure I'd survive the winters on Vancouver Island too.

But the suburb in which I'd lived in Melbourne had been slightly inland, and I had not experienced the full effect of the coastal fog. After Vancouver Island's rainy season had set in in earnest this November, we had a few foggy days in a row. My temporary condo is right on the waterfront. But it might as well have been on the moon. I couldn't have told you, from looking out my window, where I lived.

Then I woke up, maybe for the third morning in a row, to a particularly dense fog. I stood at the window, thinking to myself, "Yes, Nanaimo is a vibrant town with lots of neat stuff going on. Yes, I love my fellow cohos [members of my cohousing community]. Yes, it's so convenient to be able to take the garbage out in my sandals. But, holy Batman, I'm living in a sensory deprivation chamber!!! I don't know if I can take this!!!!!!!"

Just then, a piece of driftwood floated into view, barely discernable through the fog. Perched on it was some sort of sea bird. Being so new here, I didn't know the species. It was quite large and angular. Compared with the grey background, the driftwood and the bird looked black. The scene reminded me of some Chinese and Japanese paintings I've seen. Just a few brushstrokes in black and white. And then, before I knew it, they had drifted into the fog, beyond my field of vision. That vignette was so exquisite, so ephemeral, that I felt awestruck.

Right on the spot, I determined to see the beauty in all the seascape's changing moods. From that moment to this, I have remained resolutely cheerful about the weather.

In fact, we've had a mixture of weather through the remainder of November -- some sunny days and some rainy ones. This morning I again woke up to fog, but this time it didn't freak me out.

I know I will need to live through a coastal winter, indeed a few coastal winters, before I'm qualified to pass judgement. But, the way I feel now, I have survived my baptism by fog, and have earned my stripes an islander.

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