Vancouver B.C. has declared a salty state of emergency. Retail outlets sold out snow shovels and ice melt weeks ago. Ads on Craigslist offer ice melt salt for a staggering $20 – 40 a bag. Desperate citizens resort to crow bar, hammer and axe sidewalk clearing. Not once in four decades of calling Vancouver home can I recall free salt relief stations at fire-halls across the city.
Watch what happens – first clip, a minute that speaks for itself. Second video, added commentary of the evening news.
At first one might confuse our salt shortage with images of starving refugees swarming aid stations for grains of rice. I shudder to think of behavior in an actual emergency.
Rain forest winter arrives with November gales. Powerless to squelch winter monotones, autumn hues surrender to prevailing winds. Daylight wanes, skies darken, rain makes camp. Dreary days turn to weeks, sunlight plays a fickle game of hide and seek. Occasionally a fleeting punctuation of jet stream leniency heralds arctic outflow conditions – a brief respite marked by brilliant sun and unseasonably cool temperatures. The rain forest holds its breath, snowfalls’ only chance occurs on the cusp of Pacific moisture colliding with arctic chill. Several years can pass without a flake of snow, every decade or so measurable accumulations ignite a tizzy of seasonal hysteria.
Despite the passing of forty years in Vancouver, Canadian winter flickers in nostalgic vignettes.Pressing pennies against frost on my bedroom window, standing back to admire patterns of perfect impressions. Enormous icicles defiantly begging one of us to knock them down. Beyond childhood fancy, nostalgia cries for the ceremony of winter. Away from the rain forest, winter is a surety. Winter boots and jackets lined up by the end of October, snow tires installed by first frost, garden tools replaced with snow shovels – But for the rain forest, a nation of realists embrace winter with pragmatic diligence.
As I write, relentless rain assaults my window. A 60% chance of rain is forecast for the next 14 days. What I wouldn’t give to hear the inexplicable hush of snowflakes, to gaze at night skies wrapped in distinctive layers of snowy reflection or revel in crunches of fresh snow under my boots. For now, I live vicariously through images taken by my husband last week in Alberta.
A familiar symphony lulls Vancouver to sleep. Behind rain tapped windows, morning breaks in hues of rain forest winter gray. Storm after Pacific storm delivers seasonal monotones. Seemingly eternal bleakness, occasionally punctuated by meteorologic anomalies. Wrapped in a few days sunshine, winter’s merciful gift lifts even the darkest spirits. Sunlight isn’t the only present winter has up her sleeve – when you least expect, dense fog transforms winter monotony into columns of dancing light.