It first dawned on me soon after I arrived in Vancouver that not everyone gets excited about a sunny, 15 degree day in February. The realization came while winter sailing in English Bay.
I was headed to Bowen Island with a group of friends, to participate and play pipes at the annual Robert Burns Supper at a local pub. With the sun shining down on us, a light breeze blowing and good friends, it was a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon in January. In my excitement, I called one of my brother’s in Nova Scotia to tell him about my sailing trip, the warm sun and beautiful day. He told me that was great and that he’d like to stay on the phone and chat but he and his sons had to go back outside and shovel snow – for the third time that day. I got the message, and have been conscious of my smugness ever since.
It is one of the beauties of this place that you can play pipes outside pretty much any time of the year. November, December and January can be a challenge, but it’s nothing like the -12 degree weather on Remembrance Day in Goose Bay, Labrador that I played at a dozen years ago. Or the bone chilling dampness of a January funeral in Nova Scotia or the cold of
northern Alberta when I lived there. On the flip side, the humidity of Barbados was another challenge during my time in that country – although much more bearable than the cold.
Today, after weeks of rain, it’s another sunny late winter day in Vancouver. The flowers are starting to appear and the buds on my trees are poking out. Mosquitoes and bugs are flying around and slowly the ground is starting to come alive. The local ski hills have experienced one of their worst years on record, thanks to a number of Pineapple Expresses that delivered warm temperatures and a metre of rain from the south Pacific. While another (the fifth?) winter blizzard hits my family and friends on the East coast, I am enjoying an early taste of spring, and thinking about them and the warm, hot summer days that are slowly creeping up on all of us. It’s enough to make a fella break out the pipes and start playing – outside, of course.