COLUMN: We’re all at the whim of the weather

Weather is a wondrous thing. It’s no wonder people talk about it all the time.

by Chris Bryan

Weather is a wondrous thing. It’s no wonder people talk about it all the time.

Last Monday night it was the wind, blowing like the bejeezus, making the rain a weapon. At our house, it was like someone pelting pebbles against the windows and siding, and I slept nary a wink.

Riding my bike to work last week, the headwind was a cursed foe. Muscles ached as I worked the pedals. Walking would have been faster.

Yet a tailwind is a joy, like being propelled by a benevolent hand.

Few things affect our moods like weather. Music may be a close second, but the elements and their whims have an uncanny ability to take us from agony to bliss, and all the stops in between. For those who care to stop and enjoy, it can bless us with wonder.

Two Fridays ago, a massive gust blew through our area, lasting about five minutes. I was in my office at the time, facing a wall of windows. In what seemed mere moments, the sky turned from grey to a roaring river of fluttering colour. It was pure inundation, like a swirling murmuration of starlings feathered with gold, copper and bronze. The nearby cottonwoods seemed eager to show their winter bones. And then, as quickly as it started, there were just a few stray leaves. Then nothing.

It was awesome. I had never seen anything like it.

A child would have known what to do in this whirlwind. It called for giggles, a dance with nature as wind was made flesh.

And just as weather amazes, it energizes and calms.

With its cool touch, as we step out of our muggy fall homes, it invigorates.

In fall, as true West Coast weather takes hold, it provides a backdrop for comfort. While the outside world is dark and deep with cloud, in black and tattered shrouds of ash across the sky, away from the steady downpour we retreat to blankets, tea, books and scotch. To stews, wine, hot chocolate, and the company of others.

Lightning has a way of burning into your memory. My flashbulbs reveal me as a five-year-old in Alberta, huddling beneath a canoe in the bed of a pickup as we flee the lake in a downpour as the gods thunder. At 19 on the French Atlantic coast, warm and safe, watching the sky light up over the Bay of Biscay with some new friends. Years later, on a Utah desert highway, paranoid, trying to remember if rubber tires provide safety from electrocution.

And later still, with my future wife on an evening walk, taking refuge from the rain beneath a canopy of trees at a local park, watching the devil’s pitchforks light up the distant sky, grateful for a show that feels staged on our behalf.

In winter, the snow brings delight. Always best when it arrives in evening, before thoughts turn to morning commutes, when we are warm at home, watching it drift beneath the street lamps. The city is quiet, the blanket of white softens the canvas, simplifies, purifies the landscape, blurring the lines between yard, sidewalk and street as people walk down the road, pulling a child on a sled, dust off a pair of cross-country skis, turn their driveway into a toboggan run.

And of course, there is always the joy of the sun.

Even before dark winter departs, we are granted those days of bliss when it warms our cheeks, giving our moods, our entire days, a lift.

And in time, next spring, there will be a day when we emerge from our homes wearing something light, just a shirt, perhaps. It is neither too hot, nor too cold. But just right.

And for a moment, we forget about the weather completely.

Chris Bryan​ is editor of the Burnaby and New West NewsLeader, Black Press​ sister papers of The Abbotsford News.

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