Tag Archives: winter

Victoria's Dallas Road. Sun, storm, turbulent ocean -- it ain't clear sailing, but isn't it fucking beautiful? And that's life.

For the Love of a Storm

The Pacific is a vast and daunting thing. All the world’s continents can fit inside it with more room leftover for an extra Africa. 99% of the Pacific is water. 1% is land.

Living on its edge means a constant barrage of weather rolling in over the winter, all that turmoil brewing over those high seas. Today we’re warned of an “incredible series” of subtropical storms that have set sail and will land here shortly, the first of which is expected dump within the hour.

The novelty of incoming storms never grows old for me. Inside, I completely understand the unbridled rage and joy with which Lieutenant Dan screamed into the hurricane from the crow’s nest of that Bubba Gump shrimping boat.

There’s a primal sense felt by those of us who are storm fanatics. We feel a storm brewing on the wind. We can read it in the ripples on the water. We smell rain on the breeze. The stormfront’s pressure throbs behind our eyes as the changing, charged airmass nears us. In the day leading up to it, a dull pain hits the joints and we creak like the Tin Man before he got his oil.

It comes. Slowly, but it comes. The skies are blackening and a strange eerie calm has descended. These are the moments when one turns and sees a spider scurrying up a wall. Nature understands nature. Even dogs can feel an earthquake before it comes.

We humans, not so much. We invented clocks and then we let machines do our natural thinking for us.

Still, there are those who do feel and see nature like the animal world does. Like natives who listen to the wind and smell the earth. They can tell you when a storm comes. We can see it in nature — the bugs skitter, squirrels panic about nut-gathering, birds seem to vanish from the skies. Nature knows when the skies are due to unleash fury.

Us, we fall into ruts of Westernized life. Clock-watchers, weather-forecast-readers. So plugged into the digital world that we’re not in tune with things from nature that our forebears could read for generations before us.

So few people notice when a first gust of wind rises, signalling a shift in climate. They don’t see when clouds appear menacing all of a sudden or their direction seems to change. They don’t feel a sudden drop or rise in temperature that signals an onslaught of wind or rain.

But some of us do.

Weather, for me, is something I feel in my bones. My head throbs, my throat gets scratchy, my eyes grow heavy and pained. And yet I watch out my window like a kid on Christmas, for I know, when that storm hits peak and rages like a woman scorned, I’ll feel an utter release of all those barometric head systems and I’ll be sharp and alert and happy again.

“Weather migraines” are a curse for some folks. I’m usually not fond of them myself, but I am deeply grateful to be one of those people who “feels” the climate.

It’s satisfying when I feel like I’m of the Earth and privy to what it’s going through. I love this bursting sense of anxiety that pulsates under my skin as a storm draws near. I understand the skittishness and apprehension of the natural world — the squirrels who panic, the birds who take cover, and the ants running for their hills — because I feel it too.

Unlike them, I have the luxury of knowing my phone and flashlights are all charged up, and the noodle house is a short walk away. I have a nice comfortable home and warm socks and blankets. For me, a storm is a chance to bundle up and be witness to something greater than us.

And so, like Lieutenant Dan, I say bring it. I promise you, at least once tonight, I will shout out my window into the wind and rain, “IS THIS ALL YOU’VE GOT?”

Then, like a pussy, I’ll batten down the hatches, bundle up, pour a whiskey, and watch Netflix until the power craps out. If it does. And then it’s book time.

Because: Storms.

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.

When Winter Looms, Wet Coast-Style

Rain’s slamming Vancouver sideways, as heavy winds batter windows and fill me with dread about the day’s errands to be run.

Days like this, the so-called simple life of living without a car feels like punishment.

Photo by me, November in Vancouver, 2009.

It’s true Wet Coast glory on a stormy morn like this.

You cannot run, you cannot hide.

Living on the Pacific coast becomes a chore this time of year. It cuts into me. The endless oppressive grey is the bitterest tonic to swallow for the seasonally-affected, like myself.

Endless rain’s like inertial dampeners for the soul. Slows the pulse to a dull echoing thud.

Today’s sky is deep grey, lacking of any definition. Just a mass of smooth charcoal oppression stretching between horizons.

It’s part of who we are, here, though.

There’s something about the rain that, when you’ve been in Vancouver or on this coast long enough, becomes a part of what you exude emotionally and how you absorb the world around you.

All the Sufi mystics will tell you the height of joy we feel for life can only be measured by how much we have suffered.

If the same is true meteorologically, my Vancouver brethren know a sunny day’s glory better than any one, any where.

I’ve long thought the climate in Vancouver to be almost a psychological aspect of who this city is. We’re bipolar. Full of life and passionate in sun, bitchy and isolate in rain.

It’s not like we’re the most populated region in North America, but look at the prolific serial killers we’ve had between Seattle and Vancouver — the Pig Farmer Willie Pickton, Ted Bundy, the Green River Killer, and child-killer Clifford Olsen.

The darkness affects some people a lot. It can fuck with the sturdiest of minds when it’s going on three-plus months of 65% darkness, oft-filled with cloudy skies the other 35%.

The rain, the wet, the isolation, the wind, the chill.

It’s a gruelling place to be come the doldrums of winter.

Early explorers up the coast called it a special dreary kind of hell when the rains began.

I’ve lived in the Yukon, and even with less daylight and Arctic-like temperatures, it was a far cheerier winter — sunlight came nearly daily, and the snow blasted light everywhere.

Days like today in Vancouver, I feel like I’m living in an Edgar Allen Poe tale, with bleakness around every corner.

Fortunately, I’m literary, so that kind of works for me.

Until I step outside.

I sometimes wonder how much where we are is who we are. Much of this town makes me ponder who that makes us. Takes a strange breed to suffer through most of nine months of being a battered duck just to enjoy a brief summer.

Yet, I stay. Like so many others.

It’s hard not to love this part of the world, despite the bleak and endless grey that finds us so easily.

I might’ve found the Yukon a cheerier place in the winter, but my heart dropped through the floor when I saw a sunny day picture of Vancouver’s summer in passing on television that spring, and weeks later my soul felt a blanketed peace when I got caught in the first rain I’d felt in 11 months, since arriving in the Yukon.

I may bemoan the cold, wind, rain, and endless oppressive air, but this is who I am, too.

A Vancouver chime-rattling windstorm, the endless drizzle or pelting rain, and the mottled variations of grey will always, always evoke home and comfort to me. It’s visions of blankets and warm beverages, soft crackling lights, heaters groaning in the night.

It’s Canada, Vancouver-style.

And as much as I hate the idea of leaving and plodding through this for the better part of my day, I’m already enjoying the idea of getting back home again.

Because that’s winter, Vancouver-style.

And that’s why we have warm beverages, fluffy slippers, and breathable waterproof raingear.

Whatever it takes, Wet Coast-style.

Bittersweet Winter Mornings & Their Longings

A little after waking, a furiously beautiful sunrise lit my little part of the world up. Red, red, red, as far as the eye could see. Fire on the horizon, exploding across the cottony clouds that spread west over the Pacific.

Some shivers, some cold toes, but it was worth heading out to stand on my balcony and marvel over nature, if even too briefly.

I’m reaching my winter tether’s end. My sanity is tattered, my resolve weakening.

I want Spring. Continue reading

Tired, Wired, At the End of It All

I’m frustrated as hell today.

I know I’m PMSing. I’m getting pissed off at obligations, frustrated at my lack of time, angry at the day ahead of me, and I have nothing I can do to really change or improve any of it, other than the plans on tap.

It’s chemicals, man. I’d apologize, but I don’t want to. I didn’t ask to feel like this. I don’t want to feel like this. I also know it won’t be around long. But it’s around now, and there’s not much I can do to shake that.

For now, my life’s pretty consumed with obligation. I’ve got a lot on tap in the next week, and it’s frustrating, because what I really want to do is just get back into a routine. Any, really. I’m stretched too goddamned thin. Still. I’m tired. It’s been a very, very long time of feeling this way. Normally it doesn’t bother me much, I’m used to it, but come PMS time, I get resentful as fuck. I’d like to live on Easy Street. That’d be a nice change of address, if even for a while. Continue reading