Complaining about the weather

I make a real effort not to indulge in Vancouver’s favourite pasttime of complaining about the weather. Even when it rains all June. Even when a good attitude towards the wet is seen as “pollyanna-ish” (thanks nasty co-worker!)

Not only is it futile, weather being an unchangeable element, but endless complaint is a drag on everyone. Rain is simply a major factor in a rainforest, and it’s also the reason my garden is doing so swimmingly (pardon the pun) this summer. The combination of mild temperatures and wet weather has created what you see above. Also – here’s a close-up of the potatoes and raspberries. I can’t remember any year in the last three when the growth has been this manic in June:

Anyhow – back to my original point. There seems to be this increasingly prevalent attitude that rain impedes us from getting outside or actually enjoying outdoor activities – which is totally not how I grew up. As a kid, I remember many days of gardening when it was raining, hiking and camping on the Oregon Coast in fog and mist, and hours of tromping around in wet underbrush and forest out back of my parents’ place. And it’s not like we had fancy rain gear either! Maybe some rubber boots, but otherwise there was this notion that you could get soaking wet in any activity, as long as you had a place to get dry afterwards. Be that campfire, home or weird-little-rv-type-thing…. being a wimp about the water just got you laughed at in those later environs.

Now, I will acknowledge that I do not like to be camping in a downpour – especially with my small ultra-light tent. I have become remarkably good at keeping dry with it, but still, who wants to be cooking in a nylon vestibule with mud running down underneath? On the other hand, I’m afraid that weather fears have kept me indoors more often than I would like over the last few summers – as I have developed the Vancouver phobia of getting wet.

Two things have reminded me recently of just how foolish (and limiting) that is. The first of those is the hunting planning we have been doing which involves trips into the late fall. This of course risks rain and cold, but with our recent gear investment, and some good planning I know that we can make a dry and beautiful camp in most conditions and I find myself excited to be outdoors in any weather again. The second is a gardening excursion Brian and I took on Saturday to dig up some free plants in Strathcona. This involved digging up two mature trees in the wet, and then replanting them (and some other odds and ends in my front yard). By the end of the hole-digging and replanting, I was muddy, soaked and totally acclimatized to both.

So much of being comfortable in any weather is spending time outside in any weather – a therapist friend of mine once described to me how we can develop our nervous system to withstand cold winters, which apparently is a traditional practice which explains how people lived through bad winters without central heating (longhouse fires notwithstanding). This involves exposing the body to extreme hot and cold during the first snow of the season…. (much like the Finnish Sauna) which then builds up resilience to cold for the rest of the winter. Over here at another blog I read, the writer talks about heat acclimation in the South which operates on a similar principle. That is, exposure and lots of it, plus working through the discomfort – something we don’t like to have to do in our modern city.

And perhaps this is where the increase in weather-related complaints comes from – a rise in the media-fed attitude that one should *never* be uncomfortable in a world of such consumer product availability. In Vancouver I would suggest this is compounded by the sense that a city this expensive to live in should at least have good weather. But all the shoulds and haves in the world don’t make it so, and personally I am more than a little glad to be in a region not experiencing an early forest-fire season like most of North America seems to be. Humidex in the high-thirties? That sounds freakin’ miserable to me, being a west-coaster and all.

So I’m going to redouble my efforts to remain positive as we round-out this wet June, and try to carry that into the fall and winter again. Key to my well-being in the winter months is actually getting out in the woods, where the grey is masked by a sparkling green, fed by the water which sustains us.

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