Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wet Winter Wonderland

For those of you reading this from outside Canada, there is something you need to know about our Canadian winters.

You have only two choices - to be freeze-dried, like the folks in Winnipeg (or Winterpeg, as it's fondly known), or soaked, like those of us living on the Wet Coast.

It's January and a wet winter wonderland on Vancouver Island.  That means fog, damp, wind, drizzle, showers, downpours, rain, heavy rain and grey skies,  plus all the accoutrements to deal with it.

Dripping jackets hanging in the hall closet, heaps of muddy boots at the door, and umbrellas everywhere - drying in the living-room, hanging from a railing, left on the bus, or abandoned in a flower-bed after a particularly gusty day.

It also means every day after school there's a roaring horde of energetic children running up and down our inner atriums safe and dry while the usual winter monsoons pelt down rain by the bucketful outside.

Now you would think that living in this soggy, sunless climate would tend to make us gloomy at this time of year.  It does, a bit, but not for long.

That's because we know it will soon change.  Unlike the rest of Canada, here spring starts showing itself early, and in anticipation of that, our Seedy Saturday events are usually held the first weekend of February.

In another four weeks we will see  the wild violets growing on the hillside leading down to the river at the bottom of the Pacific Gardens property, with snowdrops and crocuses in our gardens.

By  mid-March it could be warm enough - and certainly windy enough - to start hanging the wash on the umbrella clothesline outside my window, although I may need extra clothespins to keep everything firmly fastened.

So, eat your heart out, the rest of Canada - it may be soggy out here, but at least it ain't snowing, and pretty soon we may even see some sunshine!


Inspired by Kathryn's post, I (Judy) wanted to jump in and share some photos of past springs on the "Wet Coast."  As Kathryn said, we know this is all just around the corner for Coastal British Columbians.

Here is a photo of daffodils, taken in a friend's yard on Thetis Island in February 2010:

Next is a photo of my husband, Greg, with our kayaks on Pylades Island in February 2012:

Below, our kayaks are JUST visible on the beach on Penelakut (formerly Kuper) Island in March 2012 -- with a broad-leafed evergreen green tree, the ubiquitous Arbutus, in the foreground.  After 27 years in Calgary, the broad-leafed evergreens are one of my joys on the BC Coast.  Spectacular as the Rocky Mountains are, they have no broad-leafed evergreens or vines.

The next photo shows our windbreak on that beach on Penelakut Island in March.  It was a bright, but breezy, day.  Yet, behind the shelter of our windbreak, we were able to strip down to our T-shirts and soak up the sun.

Greg went beach combing on the Penelakut shore.  Not only did he return with a bunch of daffodils that he'd picked from the edge of the forest, but he'd also found a "vase" in which to arrange them -- an empty pop can.  

While our temporary windbreak suited our immediate needs on the beach, Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community has a permanent windbreak (and rain shelter!) in the form of the glass-covered atriums to which Kathryn referred.  You can see the North Atrium being put to good use in Myriam's photos of the 2012 Winter Solstice celebrations   .

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