Everybody talks about it

Those were the days, my friend
After several weeks of uncharacteristic heat wave, the weather here has turned cooler. Daily high temperatures are actually around the 30-year average ("normal") for this time of year, but there's more cloud and less sun as well, and now even a threat of rain. Autumn looms. Northern summers don't last long, even here in Lotusland.

I have a friend who lives with chronic illness. Hot weather makes life very difficult for her. She had a terrible time during the heat wave. I have another friend who lives with chronic pain. The heat wave was paradise for her. The cooler temperatures that make friend #1 so happy cause friend #2 serious distress. Before too long, for the sake of her health, friend #2 and her husband will be moving far away from friends and family to a tropical climate.

I grew up in New England, with New England winters. They were just a part of life. I don't remember any particular distress during winter. Indeed like most kids, I loved when it snowed. We lived near a slope high and long enough to have good sledding runs. I learned to ice skate when I was five years old. Later, I learned to ski (sort of).

There were a lot of reasons for me to leave Boston. Winter certainly was one of them. The older I got, the less I liked snow, and the less I could stand cold weather. The Blizzard of '78 was fun because it was so extreme, but in general I lost my taste for real winter.

I traded winter snow for winter rain. I moved here during a particularly nice August, so I was lulled into complacency. But winter was not far away. It took me a few years to get used to the rain and damp and grey and gloom and even shorter winter daylight hours than in Boston, but I did. I was just happy that it usually didn't snow and usually didn't get too cold. If I wanted snow, I could always go hiking in the North Shore mountains.

Still, even Vancouver winters are no picnic for me. I don't have chronic illness or chronic pain, but in many ways I do much less well in winter, or the rainy season as I call it, than in summer (dry season). I have a mild case of psoriasis, and my skin is always much healthier in warm weather than in cool. I don't often get really sick, but I breathe less well during winter. I don't think I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but when a long winter turns into a cool, gloomy spring and summer threatens never to arrive, I go a little bonkers. Last summer, when July didn't start until August, was awful for me. I was ecstatic this summer to have some real, sustained warmth, which we hadn't had for several years. I felt so much better. Lying on a beach in the hot sun, which I did a few times this summer, gives me a strong sense of well-being.

Clearly, when it comes to weather, I line up much more with friend #2 than friend #1. So why don't I move to a warmer climate?

Good question. Sweetie and I have been tempted, believe me. Our physical and psychological well-being improve greatly every time we go to Hawaii. I remember taking off for Maui with both of us feeling stuffy and ill, and then after a day or two in Hawaii realizing that those feelings had gone away as soon as we has landed. Hawaii has a climate that seems to work for both of us.

If only we could get our beloved Prime Minister to annex our favourite islands! The fact that they are in the United States gives us serious pause. Only to live there, though, not to vacation there.

As well, even though I have been in Vancouver only for 18 years, and Sweetie for 15, we have real ties here. Our families are far away, but we have lots of "family" here—people we care about, people who care about us. This place is home.

There is also the matter of our being urban rats. We have no desire to leave it all and live in the country. We'd be bored to tears. We enjoy being away from the city for periods of time, but we're not country people. Cities have so much to offer, at least to us. And I'm probably right where I want to be with regard to career. It was the film industry that brought me here, but it might be the fashion business—especially of the local and sustainable variety—that keeps me here.

Still, nothing is set in stone. A few more nasty winters, a few more lingering wet springs, and any more missing summers might make us rethink our future. There are indications that climate change in these parts might not manifest itself as warming. We might become even more of a temperate rain forest than we are already. Which makes Hawaii look awfully good, and it's almost not in the US, right? Y'all could come visit anytime!

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