Sunday, December 16, 2012

this is winter on the coast

this is winter on the coast

this is winter on the coast

this is winter on the coast

this is winter on the coast

We don't get a lot of snow out here. Sure, it piles up in the mountains above us, often tantalizing close, just a couple hundred feet up. But down here on the coast of Vancouver Island the white stuff rarely falls. A couple of times a year the biting chill of an Arctic outflow comes down out of the mainland inlets, settling in for days with bright, clear blue skies and frozen temperatures. But soon enough the prevailing southeasterly winds find their way back in with their dark clouds dense with moisture, and a heavy snow falls on the frozen landscape. The white blanket lasts a few hours, sometimes even a few days, but eventually, always, it turns to rain. In all my 33 years, I think I could comfortably count on one hand the number of white Christmases I have seen.

Winter on the coast is a lot more like yesterday. Waking in the wee hours all snug in my bed, the wind careens past the house like a freight train. I roll over and tuck back in, but the rush of wind and driving rain on the window keep sleep away. All morning the puddle fills up where the driveway meets the road, and little birds puff up and try to keep warm in the wind, flitting through the bare honeysuckle branches by the hanging suet. I keep expecting to see an old woman riding a bicycle fly past the window. Finally, into the afternoon, the rain lightens, just a little. Bundled up, I head out to explore. Here on the coast we don't often get the frozen winter temps so many other see. But there is a persistent dampness to the air that helps the gale howling up the strait cut through to the bone. In the forest the trees sway and shudder, the creek rushes its way to the sea; the outside world disappears in the wind. A couple brave souls pass me on the beach and we exchange frozen smiles before tucking our heads against the wind again.

This is winter on the coast. We hunted for a Christmas tree for my parents this afternoon in between the rain drops, winding our way through dripping branches. The tree brought home, lit up and covered in decorations, a holiday contrast to the grey and brown world outside. We ate æbleskiver and celebrated the third Sunday of advent as another storm came in. The seas rolled underneath the ferry as we crossed the water again to get home.

And if to make an exception, prove me wrong...on the drive home the rain looked distinctly thick on the windshield in the dark. As we turned inland there was no denying the snow, piling up on the road in front of us and flying toward the car in a hypnotizing swirl. Back at home closer to the ocean, the ground was still mostly mud, but the white stuff continued to fall heavily. Now it has piled up quickly and we're considering a night walk around the block. Because around here, you never know how long it is going to last...


Brittan said...

we seem to be having more winters like yours here on this coast. i have been yearning for snow, i can't wait... everyone seems to think we are going to have a harsh winter, but i don't see signs of it so far :(
i love the video you shared of the trees dancing, i love being out in the woods and looking up as they sway around. such amazing things.
we have been getting rain here since yesterday, and i am still praying that it turns white and fluffy, i need to see the white!
hope all is well otherwise!

Kate said...

Beautiful descriptive writing, K. Perfect description of the week-end! I walked in the wind and rain yesterday, feeling snug in my rain pants and jacket. Today the snow is slush on the road, typical wet mess. Welcome Monday, I suppose.

BJ Monitas said...

Hi over there, actually we do have quite similar weather in Germany. We had some snow, but now it's raining. How ever I wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! A Year full of inspiration and creativity. Kindest bjmonitas

Heather M. said...

Love the video of the trees. I am surrounded by deciduous trees here, but they were blowing too.

I do love it here.

Starr White said...

I love reading your descriptions of your wild and windy coast. It sounds wonderful. Glad you got some snow. I too yearn for snow. Have only had 1 white Christmas in all my 41 years. Snow is such a rare and precious gift here. Enjoy it while it lasts! Merry Christmas!

Rachel said...

I could feel your weather in your writing...that west side coastal dampness, those winds and the sound it makes whipping through the trees. Lovely post. We were having similar conditions inland this year...wet, damp, hovering around freezing but not making it there...brutal winds. We've settle back to cold and dry for the time being.