In Vancouver, rain can change in a single moment. In one day, it can require a full suit of wet weather gear, then a light jacket, then an umbrella and knee high boots, then the ability to laugh at the few drops that hit the street. The sky can be a brutal grey bruise against the mountains, a pure white overcast where I can almost imagine the sun hiding behind it, or a blue sky scattered with clouds.
The moisture from each of those skies is different.
We live with rain in Vancouver. It doesn’t matter what season it is – we have precipitation to suit every month of the year.
Summer rain can roar through the city, moving from the ocean to the mountains in a single raging downpour, leaving foot high puddles in its wake, and all of us laughing with joy at the experience. We can go a week or two, sometimes even three, without a single drop of rain and all of us scared to speak of the lack, believing our words might bring it back.
Autumn is the season of surprise rain. It shifts from sun to shadow in the space of a commercial break. It rips leaves from trees and blocks drains. Cars race through the puddles and soak passersby at each corner. Walking to work is an adventure, wielding an umbrella like a defensive shield.
Winter is autumn amplified and because it’s cold, we add sleet to the mix. It might snow in Vancouver, then the next day it’ll melt, leaving lakes of messy, cold half-rain, half-sleet at every corner. On those days, waist-high waders or a sick day phone call are the only possible answers to the walk to work.
And then there’s the soft, sweet rain of the spring. It’s easy to use that phrase in December – the spring deluge is months away. But that deluge brings early blossoms – Japanese cherry blossoms always the earliest harbinger in January, then the tiny green shoots of crocus, the tall spears of daffodils and tulips, the soft yellow fuzz on the willow trees.
When you live in Vancouver, you learn to enjoy the rain, to buy a new umbrella whenever you see one on sale, because for sure you’ve left your umbrella somewhere you aren’t. Raincoats become fashion statements, and I’m willing to bet that few other cities can sell such a variety of boots.
Rain. Rain. Splendid rain.