“Sun slant low”

21 December 2022 – I’ve shown you this photograph before; don’t care, here it is again, because — back in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park in November 2016 — it was some sidewalk artist’s tribute to the winter season, the season of the low-slanting sun.

And here we are, 21 December: shortest day, lowest slant of all; the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.

Yet in Vancouver, this particular solstice, the story is not the slant of the sun.

It is the snow, and the cold: 32 cm right in the city itself, and a high today of -10C. This, of course, is nuthin’ in true snow country. Just ask two of my favourite bloggers: Sarah McGurk, the British veterinary surgeon living in Arctic Norway, or Lynette d’Arty-Cross, who backs & forths between British Columbia and Canada’s own high Arctic. They can tell you about snow and cold.

But here in the Temperate Rainforest, this kind of weather is unusual. Enough to make today’s solstice less vivid than the days leading up to it. Enough to give even fortunate residents of this city a war story or two, to exchange with friends.

Here’s mine!

Two days ago, as temperatures and snow both fell across the region, my until-now splendid building handed us a hat trick of problems: no heat, no elevators, and no electricity. I stuffed my jammies in a backpack, took transit & SeaBus across Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver, and fell into the welcoming arms of dear and generous friends.

Their property, halfway up a mountain, backs onto a provincial park. Just to look out the patio doors is magical.

Magical for the trees, magical also for the birds that flock to their feeders — thrushes, towhees, chickadees, jays, even non-migratory hummingbirds. I spent a restorative evening, night and morning with them, and then, alerted by email that my building was once again behaving itself, I made my way back home.

SeaBus back south across Burrard Inlet…

SkyTrain from Waterfront Station, its “snow alert” good warning for what proved to be a long wait for a train…

followed by the speedy arrtival of a holiday-happy #19 bus.

.Snow heaped all over my balcony, of course. Offering, if not the grandeur of snow-draped fir trees, than at least the oddly magesterial grandeur of a snow-draped garden chair.

And now, today, the shortest day — but a dazzling day.

And so the seasons turn.

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  1. Oh ya! Tis Dec 21st! Thanks for the reminder, and the photos are very magical. Great post!

  2. Hi Penny, this time we drove from NWT to Penticton over the course of the weekend as we are looking after a friend’s rather large dog. I was looking forward to a weather respite from the -22C that was then on the go. Imagine my surprise when that dreadful Arctic front followed us all the way south and then got friendly with the big Pacific front moving to the east. Although it’s now -40 in YK and it’s -17 here in dear Penticton, it’s not what I was expecting. Ugh. Well, we are getting a respite I guess, although we are supposed to be above 0 by Sunday.

    Your photos could easily have been taken in NWT. Beautiful, but so hard on Vancouver! It’s just not equipped for the challenges of cold and snow, nor it seems, your building. Thanks for the shout out. In 10 months’ time, I will be retiring from my northern adventures, so this is my last big winter. I have visited Sarah’s lovely blog; we northerners have to support one another!

    • Yes, beautiful for me but hard on Vancouver infrastructure, and horrifying for the ill-housed and the homeless. Enjoy your last winter in YK! gosh, a whole chapter of your life

  3. Blane Hogue

     /  21 December 2022

    So glad your North Van friends could take you in during your emergency. Good thing you are not sitting in the Vancouver airport!

    Very merry Christmas to you Penny!

  4. Good for you for making an entertaining post out of the trials and tribulations of weather events. The long wait could not have been pleasant but yes, the snow drifts are beautiful, wherever they are. Usually. 😉


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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

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