Tag Archives: february

Pondering the Pineapple Express

The “Pineapple Express” isn’t just a stoner movie that’ll have you hitting the Cheetos, it’s a weather phenomenon that instills dread in the hearts of West Coasters.

It’s days of unseasonal warm weather coupled with dreary heavy clouds, battering rains, and sometimes winds. It’s not like monsoons in the tropics, it’s just medium-to-heavy rain that seems endless, for days. With the humidity between 90-100%, it feels like you’re walking around in a wet paperbag for three to six days straight.

There’s some localized weather phenomena that affects where I am, Victoria, BC, where “the shadow of Mount Rainier” is said to save us from about 50% of the rain that falls in Vancouver. We might be just across the strait, less than 100km from Vancouver, BC, but they’re a rainforest, and downtown Victoria ain’t. Half the rain, baby.

Between the rain, back in 2013 on Victoria's Clover Point.

Between the rain, back in 2013 on Victoria’s Clover Point.

But you wouldn’t know it on days like these. Not because of all the rain, but because all the clouds sock us in and that moisture’s still THERE, it’s just holding out to put out for Vancouver. I guess Victoria doesn’t drive a flash enough car to woo the likes of this rain.

Still, like a school boy on a hot date, those clouds are fit to explode, and I feel the pressure as it slowly rolls overtop this island, starting its dump further up the coast as it lays into Vancouver.

It pounds behind my eyes and the back of my head. I can even feel the little shifts. Clouds clear in a patch above me momentarily, and so will my head. Rain resumes, so does the foggy brain. It’s baffling.

They call these “low-pressure fronts.” It’s evident even in the people. We trudge and grumble. There’s a “rainy-day hunch,” too. We don’t even know we’re doing it — it just happens when walking down the street in heavy rain. It’s a forward slouch with a hunching of the shoulders, and it effectively ensures more like a 60-40 rain-split, where your back gets most of the wetting action.

‘Cept those days where you’re walking into a headwind and then you’re just screwed, bro. Done. Those are the days you get rain-soaked straight up to mid-thigh. God help you if you’re not wearing water-resistant clothing, or better yet, Goretex. I’m not the only former Vancouverite who’s had 2-3 layers of clothes all get soaked under a “rainproof” jacket on the very bad, no good, wrong rain day.

One of THOSE days. I dared to shoot photos in the wind and rain. Luckily *my* gear worked. But 95km winds will give you THIS face.

One of THOSE days. I dared to shoot photos in the wind and rain. Luckily *my* gear worked. But 95km winds will give you THIS face.

We grumble and whine and moan, but this rain becomes a part of us. Day after day it grows prohibitive and inconvenient, not to mention mind-numbing and depressing, but the odd heavy rain becomes something we almost cannot live without.

I loved to the Yukon in 1994 and spent the year living in Whitehorse. When you think “Yukon,” you think endless snow, so naturally it must get quite a bit of moisture, right? But you’d be wrong. It’s incredibly dry. It snows in October, then pretty much just stays dry and sunny and cold until April, when it rains a couple times and the snow finally melts.

I’d moved there in October, after Vancouver’d had a three-month dry spell. By the time I saw and smelled rain again, it was the following April and I hadn’t seen rain in 10 months. I cried, I was so happy to see it.

So today as the rain pounds and batters the streets, and I sit with all my windows open while enjoying the unseasonal warmth, I’m loathing the dreariness despite enjoying its idle, and dreaming of when I will live in a place with more sun than rain in winter, and wondering if I might miss these Pineapple Expresses one day.

After all, there’s a catharsis that comes with rain. Like if it rains any harder it’ll even wash away my sins. It’s soul-soothing and permissive. My inner-Catholic is a big fan of rain and all its symbolic cleanliness.

I feel I’ll be betraying all my lineage by escaping this climate. From the Barra Islands Camerons in the Outer Hebrides to my Viking MacNeills, Irish Monks, and my Breton line, they’re all foul-weathered people. They overcame the challenges of the land, sea, and skies, and thrived in it.

I have the luxury of failing them all and wimping out. City-folk. Pah!

As a result, I’ll be letting the rain dictate my weekend. Food, cleaning, writing, sloth, Netflix, drinking, reclusion. All fine and glorious things. All behind the rain-streaked windows, wearing comfy jammies and sporting bedhead.

No shame, man. No shame.

February: Waking At The End of Winter

The song that inspired this posting is in the widget down below. Give it a listen and get a feel for where I’m coming from.

February.

My least-favourite month of the year. I’m not a winter person, least of all a February person.

This month reeks of death. From personal anniversaries through to roadside molding rotted leafy messes, some days, it’s all death for me.

That’s February, nature’s “darkest before dawn.”

But February also becomes birth. Snowdrops emerge from recent-frosted soils, crocuses poke up. Cherry blossoms begin their storming of Vancouver’s awakening streets.

It’s the dichotomy of life and death.

This morning I awoke with the “I don’t know how I’ll make it through the month” mentality that inevitably hits me right around now every year.

It’s like my soul grows and dies with the seasons. Come this time of year, all the fallen life leaves — and winter’s struggles — have decomposed enough that a mat covers all that’s inside of me. Finding joy and fun at this time of year, embracing humour and seeing the big picture, it just gets hard some days.

This year, not so bad. Still, below is the song by “The The” that epitomises how I experience February every year. I start off blue and pensive, thinking about my mother, whose cancer was found, whose life was given a “best-by” date, and whose birthday all fall in Valentine’s Week. It’s inevitable, I remember her every year.

Me and my friend were walking
In the cold light of mourning
Tears may blind the eyes but the soul is not deceived
In this world even winter ain’t what it seems

Then, the week ends, and I realise it wasn’t so bad. I realise I like to remember, that taking that time to remember is what will help me keep some small fragment of her alive, that the confusion of pain and acceptance I feel even now comes from how strong a relationship and connection we had, and how many questions I never got answers to.

And, like this song, “Love is Stronger than Death,” I get that it’s all part of the journey. We need these times of sadness to really know when to embrace joy, like a million philosophers and Sufi poets have said.

Here come the blue skies here comes springtime
When the rivers run high & the tears run dry
When everything that dies
Shall rise

Then, it’s the last week of February, and more of nature wakes, March is around the corner, the temperature’s rising… I feel like I’m breathing more, I’m stronger. Energy returns, curiosity piques, and smiles come easier.

It’s human nature, spring fever, waking from hibernation. I don’t know. The northern way, perhaps. But that last week of February, that’s about when my soul refills with everything I’ll need to get me through the frenetic, light-18-hours-a-day Canadian summer.

And this is the month. It’s everything — birth, remembrance, death, a tease of things to come. It’s a world of emotion every week. That’s February.

This song captures that. I’ve played it on a loop for a half hour. The slow, painful start, consciousness rising in the middle, then the exuberant determination in the end, when a groove begins to fall upon you, the listener. Like February moving into March. For me, anyhow.

Soon. Out there, I can smell its arrival. Air too fresh like that, always signals winter’s either comin’ or goin’. Yeah. I’m ready.

—-

I give you “The The,” the band name that stumped pirates before downloading was even a thing. Trivia about The The? Local alternative radio station, CKST, Coast 1040, had a very short on-air life in the early ’90s after fighting hard for air time, and the station came to life and died with their first and last songs ever played being “The The” tracks: the first being from the Mind Bomb album, the last from Dusk, Lonely Planet.