Gray is no longer a favourite colour.
As I write this, it’s raining outside and the crocuses are up. The skies are leaden, exactly the same as they have been since November. With luck, we’ll get long stretches of sun again in April. I hear of people who move to snow-clogged Ottawa, just to escape the gray.
Welcome to Victoria in the winter.
We pay a price for being the warmest major city in Canada. Long, depressing winters full of rain but rarely snow, summers that are pleasant but with few evenings warm enough to linger on the patio. Mild. Bland. Not much passion in our climate.
This year I’ve got the winter blahs, despite daffodils blooming here and there. SAD rarely affects me, possibly because I’m an indoor creature, usually with my nose in a book or a craft project, or losing myself in my writing. But this winter feels interminable.
A part of why I don’t (usually) notice the weather too much is that I seem to always be writing books that take place in the opposite season. The Christmas scene in Amanda was written at the height of summer. Right now, in my fantasy work-in-progress, we just celebrated summer solstice. Writing demands that I not only remember, but convey to the reader, scorching heat, lush vegetation (okay, Victoria’s pretty lush any time of the year, but you get the idea), herbs ready for harvest, the aromas of food on outdoor grills…. This is a consistent pattern with me, and I wonder if my subconscious does it on purpose. By the time we get to summer here, the fantasy trilogy will have progressed into autumn. It’s like inoculating myself against whatever it is the weather gods send us. (Stay cool on hot days! Write about a blizzard!)
A few days ago, in a rare moment of respite, the sun blessed us and the temperatures soared to fourteen degrees (that’s 57 Fahrenheit). Every single person in Victoria went outdoors and did a happy dance, I swear. I celebrated by taking my sunny mood off to the Empress Hotel for afternoon tea. The Empress is one of the grand old dames of the Canadian Pacific chain, and afternoon tea is de rigueur when you visit here. It’s nice to have the occasional reason (speaking as a woman who lives her life in jeans) to put on a dress, maybe a hat, and do it in style, especially with the sun glinting on the harbour.
Soon Victoria will conduct its annual flower count. This extravaganza is conducted mainly so that the rest of Canada won’t forget to envy us. Last year’s count in early March topped 17 billion (yes, billion: see http://www.butchartgardens.com/media/news-releases/greater-victoria-blooms-break-flower-count-calculators ) flowers. A willing citizenry counts like mad for a week, and there you have it. By then the cherry trees will be in bloom, and each one of them happily yields—well, I don’t know how many flowers. But lots.
Good luck with your winter – and watch out for those crocuses!