“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.

  • WALKING… & SEEING

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

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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