Tag: winter

The pleasures of seasons

Daffodils in VancouverLast week we met up with Andy, a friend from Ontario when he was over in Vancouver for a business trip. It was raining lightly that day, as it does from time to time here, so we ended up comparing the weather.

Andy started off being quite smug, since it was raining outside. (Not heavily enough for most Vancouverites to wear rain gear, or even notice). He got somewhat less smug when Sue said how much she loved spring in B.C. It is a beautiful time of year, with the spring flowers, buds on trees and of course our cherry blossoms at their best. (We celebrate this with our annual Cherry Blossom Festival in April).

Cherry blossom trees in Kits Tulips at the ObservatoryAndy, not the keenest of gardeners, hadn’t really noticed the cherry trees until we pointed them out. It was then that he admitted nothing much was growing in Ontario as yet. (This has it’s benefits, since I am already cutting the grass every week).

The difference that we most appreciate about B.C. is not only the milder weather but particularly the fact that there are seasons. We have spring as I’ve said. Much of the rest of Canada leaps from winter to summer since the sub-soil is too frozen to allow for spring flowers to appear.

Admittedly our winters are not real Canadian winters. That’s OK because the snow is still there on the hills ready for us to go play whenever we want. And not having to shovel snow off the drive does leave you with more time for golf, fishing or hiking.

My mother lived in Calgary for many years. She told me that she missed the spring, but she did love the cold winters, with sunny days and snow on the ground. She was a real Canadian! I remember one time when I visited her in the winter the temperature was -28°C. Not for me, but my mother liked it, so maybe you would.

Summer in Vancouver is not super hot and humid, as it can be in Ontario for example. We certainly make the most of the summer as you’ll see if you go to the beaches in English Bay or Kitsilano.

Autumn (or Fall as I still struggle to say) is often a very good time in B.C. The summer weather seems to stretch well into October, so visiting in September or October isn’t a bad idea for a research trip. But eventually the autumn weather comes, with rain being the main feature!

If you’re still deciding on where to live in Canada, then the seasons may be something to consider. We like gardening (Sue especially) and having a real spring is important as it brings in so many beautiful blooms and it is always a cheery sign of good weather to see the spring bulbs appearing. Just saying!

Our love hate relationship with snow

Snow on the drive
When it snows we need to park at the top of our drive

This week in Vancouver we had our first big dump of snow and it got me thinking about how we both love and hate the white stuff.

The Love Affair

Before we came to Canada, snow was a rare and exciting thing. And it was one of those things we were most looking forward to. The first year we all signed up for learn to ski or snow board lessons. (The kids all went with the cooler snow boarding option, while Sue and I hit the slopes, literally, with two planks of wood strapped to our feet).

Even if you are not new to Canada the start of the winter season is greeted with excitement. Many people are celebrating that our local ski hills are all opening early this year. The real enthusiasts are heading for Whistler, which opened today.

The Long Drive Home

The other side of the coin is commuting. I am talking here about places like Victoria and Vancouver where we are not used to snow at lower elevations. It comes once or twice a year, and generally not for more than a few days. But in that time it proves how ill prepared most of us are.

Winter tires are only the norm for people who do have to travel any distance. If you’re going to Whistler every weekend, or over the mountain passes to the interior, then you will definitely want snow tires. Otherwise many drivers skip the expense and stick with all season tires.

Most of the time that’s ok.

Then it snows big time. And you’re slipping around on the roads, sliding through the four way stop and are a danger to yourself and others.

That’s when we hate the snow.

There again, you could take the day off. Make a snowman or snow angels in the back yard. Get the snow bus to one of the ski hills. Or stay wrapped up by the fire and enjoy a real winter.

What are you looking forward to when it comes to your first Canadian winter?

Snow angels

Snow season is approaching. We have already had some snow on the north shore mountains. Like most Vancouverites I am hoping for a lot of snow to settle on the mountains.

One of our friends has some lovely photos of their hike up on Mount Seymour last week, where there was enough snow for their oldest daughter to make a snow angel. For their youngest, not yet a year old, it was her first experience of snow. How exciting.

Actually locals too have this same excitement about the opening of the ski season. With the mountains visible from all over the area we have a constant reminder of the state of the snow and the urge to get out onto the mountains comes on strong.

It is something that most of us from other countries have not experienced – the thrill of waiting for the fun to start. And here in Vancouver, unlike eastern Canada which has already had a big winter storm, we look forward to snow purely as a recreational activity. It is rarely an inconvenience. And if we do have a big dump of snow, then the kids get to enjoy a “snow day” – with their schools closed.

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