Through My Lens: Reflections

Here’s another photo of Lost Lagoon that I took some time ago. It’s a favourite of mine; the clouds reflected in the water remind me of a Dutch landscape painting.

Through My Lens: In the Pink

Did you know that three days ago was Blue Monday? Apparently it’s the most depressing Monday of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

I can believe it. But yesterday, when the sun (finally) came out and I got myself over to Lost Lagoon, all I saw was pink. I took this photo a few minutes after the sun went down.

Merry Christmas!

Kensington Place, English Bay, Vancouver

Oh, the Weather Outside Is Frightful

Oooh boy. Christmas travel is chaotic at best, but this year is turning out to be a real doozy. On top of today being the busiest travel day of the year, as per usual, the entire country from coast to coast to coast is being walloped by storms.

Here in Vancouver, it’s our third storm since Sunday. Bridges are closed, some lines of the Skytrain aren’t running, and this afternoon I waded through a week’s worth of snow in a futile attempt to get groceries. (Given Vancouver’s minimal snow removal budget, our residential side streets do not get cleared.)

Half of the flights out of Vancouver since Sunday have been cancelled. And as soon as one major Canadian airport is a mess, there’s a ripple effect on all other major airports in the country because none of the planes and flight crews are where they’re supposed to be. Two young people related to me spent most of Tuesday at YVR, hoping against hope their flight to Alberta would go. It did not, and they left instead by train this afternoon, hoping to get home to their parents by Christmas Eve. I told them that taking a train through the Rockies was a rite of passage; I didn’t have the heart to tell them that VIA Rail never runs on time.

Locally, BC Ferries has cancelled multiple sailings, not only due to the inclement weather, but because of frozen pipes and staff not being able to get to the terminals. Yesterday, the BC government held an impromptu news conference, and the minister with the most unwieldy portfolio title ever — Emergency Management and Climate Readiness — urged everyone to stay off the roads except in case of emergency.

That it is the first Christmas since the start of the pandemic where people finally feel comfortable travelling seems a cruel irony. As the Yiddish proverb goes, “We plan, God laughs.”

All I can say is: I wish everyone travelling mercies, good health, and a very, merry Christmas. Goodness knows, we deserve one.

Through My Lens: A Snowy View Over English Bay

If this keeps up, Vancouver will have to give up its nickname as the Tropics of Canada. I took this photo this afternoon.

Through My Lens: November Light

There’s something special about the light on the bay this time of year. I took this photo a few days ago. A friend said it was like pewter and old gold.

Snow Golf

All right. Let’s get the obligatory first-snow-of-the-season post out of the way. Here’s a photo I took a week ago today.

Yup, we went from summer to winter in less than three weeks. First the rains came in a series of atmospheric rivers, and then the first bad windstorm of the season. Trees stressed from the drought and still in full foliage came down by the thousands, pulling power lines down with them. At the height of the storm, more than 300,000 people were without power.

After all that, an Arctic outflow blanketed much of the province for the better part of a week. Vancouver’s dusting of snow on Monday night a week ago was its earliest snowfall in decades.

Just so I’m not writing about our weather every single week, I put off posting this photo until today. That’s because I knew I wanted to acknowledge the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic floods and mudslides that ravaged British Columbia. There’s been a lot of local media coverage about it the past few days because, well, it was pretty traumatic. A lot of people are still in recovery mode.

Even the barge that came up on the rocks at the end of my street a year ago today is still there. In the end, it had to be dismantled and taken away bit by bit. A salvage team has been working on that momentous task since last summer. Theyre almost done and I cannot lie: Ill be glad when its gone.

Incidentally, although the Pitch & Putt at Stanley Park is open year-round (subject to conditions), it was closed the day I took the above photo. But obviously that did not stop the die-hard golfers you see in my photo.

Then again, Vancouverites are known to never let the weather stop them from doing what they love best.

Through My Lens: In the Weeds

Here’s one last photo from our spectacularly warm fall, which I took just two weeks ago.

For obvious reasons, I’m calling this one “in the weeds.”

Vancouver in Hotumn

Ha. Here’s me, going on about our local weather. Again.

After the coldest, wettest spring I can remember, we’ve now had the hottest, driest autumn I can remember. Decades-old temperature records are dropping like flies. People are walking around in T-shirts and shorts, while still enjoying picnics on the beach and swims in English Bay.

This photo? I took it two weeks ago, at the start of our Thanksgiving weekend.

Weirdly, the leaves also seem to be slow to change colour, and those that are changing aren’t showing their usual vibrant reds and yellows. Apparently this can happen when trees are stressed because of drought: the leaves go straight from green to brown.

You read that right: drought. We’ve had no rain for more than 100 days. Metro Vancouver has asked residents to take shorter showers in addition to the usual summer water restrictions because the water reservoirs where our drinking water comes from are dangerously low.

I live in a rainforest. This is not normal.

Meteorologically speaking, what we’re experiencing is a prolonged high pressure system. A heat dome, in other words, but since the days are shorter, we’re getting temperatures in the mid-twenties instead of the high thirties.

And to think that I was moaning about how our way-too-short summer was already over at a family barbecue on Labour Day weekend. Instead, we got six more weeks of sunshine. I should feel guilty about it, since it’s all due to the climate crisis. But hey, I’ll happily take all the sunshine I can get.

Of course, we Vancouverites are never satisfied. The only thing everyone has been talking about for the past few days is this weekend’s forecast. It promises rain.

My gum boots are waiting.

Hurricane Fiona

Devastation in Port aux Basques is unbelievable.’

About 97,000 still without power across NS and PEI six days after Fiona.

More than half the fishing ports in Fiona’s path damaged.

Fiona reshaped PEI’s coastlines.

Those are just some of the headlines a week after Fiona slammed into Atlantic Canada. The hurricane will likely be rated as one of Canada’s worst natural disasters — the pictures and stories coming out of Port aux Basques in Newfoundland are heart-breaking.

You can be sure I was paying close attention to the storm’s track as it headed for the same place where I’d spent a week last August. Thankfully, my friends in the Annapolis Valley came through the storm just fine. They had lots of wind and rain and some power losses, but the west side of Nova Scotia is pretty much unscathed.

Family who were travelling on Cape Breton Island rejigged their plans and headed inland to get out of the storm’s path, then hunkered down in a hotel with a supply of storm chips. They too were safe.

Only a week after Fiona, photos of Ian’s destruction on the Gulf Coast of Florida — where I spent New Year’s some years ago with the same Nova Scotian friends — are dominating the news. The Carolinas, where I spent a month as a student many decades ago, are now waiting for Ian’s impact.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d wonder if I was the common link to all this hurricane activity.

Here is a photo I took last summer in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. I figure the ocean-facing chairs are as good a metaphor as any for storm watching.