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Sun-Induced Panic

I meant to blog before today, but, as you may have heard, we’ve got sun.


Summer’s arrival in the Pacific Northwest has been nothing short of slothful. Our friends from sunnier parts of the planet have probably had plenty of belly-aching fodder to add to their Vancouver jokes. After all, British Columbians do melodramatic very, very well.  But in case you mistake rain complaints as Vancouver’s unique bid for an Olympic sport, I’d like to present a case for:

sun-induced panic sprints.

It may not be among the list of London 2012 Games, but here in the Wet Western Coast of Canada, we run faster than a cheetah when we see a hint of sun. Quick! Everyone, drop what you’re doing! It’s HERE!

Perhaps its the abundance of Lululemon. Perhaps its the city’s eco-friendly initiatives. Perhaps we’re all just in better shape than last year. In any case, this year’s sun-sprint speed is a bit… laughable.

Summer hasn’t been plentiful, so we’re going to make the most of it.

Last weekend we escaped suburbia and spent four luxurious days in our beautiful port city. Every day – rain or shine – we biked the Seawall or walked the short blocks to Robson Street and the Art Gallery. Each time, about an hour in to our outdoor journey, the rain would pass, and we’d wrap up our umbrellas.

Suddenly the streets crowded.  Bike lane traffic thronged.

The sun is out! Vancouver cried. We must be outside!

Old and young, large and small, well-dressed and poor converged on the streets.

Isn’t it wonderful?! is really just code for We don’t know when it’s going to leave.

July 1st dawned with Vancouver mist. Eager to celebrate the holiday, Noelle insisted we walk to Canada Place ‘for the events.’ The streets were only moderately full. Restaurants were only mostly crowded. There were not nearly as many people as I expected, but still lines to children’s events rivaled theme parks.

We lasted all of an hour and a half before racing for the solace of the Seawall. Forget the rain, we said. We’ve got rain gear.

I could bike the Seawall every day, in any weather, and never want to leave. The smells, the sounds, the view all combine in one of nature’s most potent anti-anxiety drugs. Even in rain its effects are calming.

So on Canada Day, we ventured out despite the wet stuff.

Forty minutes in, we hit Second Beach and discovered a pocket of gorgeous, warm, sun.

We stopped to let the girls play at the playground. Their giggles mixed with the sound of incoming ocean. I closed my eyes and reveled in the peace.

Then it got warmer. The clouds behind us disappeared. Sun had officially come to Vancouver – all of Vancouver.

And suddenly there were people everywhere.

Our ride back was nowhere near as pleasant.

The sun was out. It was perfect biking weather.

It was perfect biking weather.

And oh, out came the bikes.

Pedestrians stared at our seven-wheeled trail-a-bike and chariot-trailer convoy with envy.

Excuse me, they called. Do you know anywhere I can rent a bike around here?

I understand the appeal. Even if we weren’t already a cycling family, Vancouver is best seen by bike. And though our city is beautiful even in the rain, it is magical in the sun. In fact, I defy even the most picturesque corners of the tropics to rival the allure of a warm and sunny Vancouver day. The mix of mountains, water, skyscrapers, and oh-so-much-green-things-everywhere captivates and makes all those months of grey oh-so-worth-it.

I’m know I’m not the only one who thinks so. In fact, I’m pretty sure the thousands that poured to the streets the instant the sun came out on Sunday thought the same thing.

One of the concierges at our hotel said, this is the only thing I hate about living in Vancouver.

The rain? I asked.

Yes. I mean, no. Not the rain. Or rather, the amount of rain. If we didn’t have so much rain, we wouldn’t panic every time we see the sun.


Yes, yes, I know you feel it. I feel it.

This year – as many of you know – I vowed to learn how to love the rain. I love where I live, and the rain comes with it.

But the rain kept coming.  In March, April, May, even June!?!, British Columbian residents could barely contain themselves. We’re sick of it! WHERE IS SUMMER?!? Sun-sightings became big news. Wanderlust set in. Longing – urgency, even – for summer, took over many of our conversations and virtually all of our Facebook statuses.

I fought it as long as I could. I’ve spent far too much of my life letting the weather dictate my mood. And I did learn some tricks to being happy in the rain. I learned how to live without depending on the weather.

Then the sun came out, and with it, a new kind of urgency.

No longer are we urged indoors by the wetness. Instead we are compelled outside by the warmth.

Skeptical by nature, I admit I’m a bit confused to see my Vitamin-D bestowing orb, because…

we’ve gotten rain for so long I’m not sure what to do with sun.

Some of us are in extra-rainy seasons right now. Some of us know we will likely live extra-rainy seasons for the rest of our lives. Those of us who survive learn how to stay dry – often by outfitting in waterproof layers.

Trouble is, waterproof layers can become suffocating. Muscles used to frowning forget how to form a smile. Flesh toughened by tears forgets how to break into a laugh.

And by the time the weather changes – or even lightens for a moment – we’ve gotten so comfortable in our layers we’re hesitant to take them off.

At a certain point the things we’ve learned to do to survive actually prevent us from thriving. Acceptance can give way to compliance, compliance to concession, and before we know it,

we only know how to be sad, 

we only know how to deal with the hard,

and we only know how to suffer.

We were made for so much more than that.

Even those in the rainiest of seasons are given breaks in the clouds. If we condition ourselves to no longer recognize them, we might miss them altogether.

So, if you didn’t know…

the sun is out.

It’s begging us to join it.

We need to break free from the tyranny of our circumstance. We who learn to love the rain must preserve enough childlike zeal to revel in the sun.

Receive it, dear friends.

Receive it, British Columbia.

We really don’t know when it will come again.

But there will be plenty of time to grieve the rain later.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lana, it’s great to hear you rejoicing in Summer’s Solar bliss. What I’d give for a little more balance, if not a trade in weather. Here in Texas, we’ve had Sun, a plenty, 🙂

    July 6, 2012
    • You know Rich, the concierge at our hotel told us they’d had lots of visitors from the Dallas area lately, because they wanted cooler weather! I agree with you – balance would be lovely. Maybe we’ll get that one day… ;)! Wishing you escape from the heat, and congratulations on the book publishing!

      July 9, 2012
      • Thank you, Lana. I’m not surprised by the visitors from Dallas. Again, thank you for your interest in my pending publication and for reminding me the Pacific Northwest provides an escape from our heat 🙂

        July 9, 2012
  2. David #

    Nice! Thanks for the reminder to keep my head up and capitalize on the sunny times. And don’t mind me – I’m just in a sun-induced panic!

    July 6, 2012
    • ‘Capitalize on sunny times’ – yes, well said. Thanks for the trip that inspired this post… making fun of pedestrians while we speed past them on our bikes is one of my favorite things to do with you! Ha ha ha. Some of them are pretty considerate… everyone else just makes those ones stand out more. 😉

      July 9, 2012
  3. Lisa Grieve #

    I love this blog post!! I LOVE the sun, and revel in it 🙂

    July 6, 2012
    • Yes, Lisa, you can be sure I thought of you when I wrote this – you DO revel in the sun. Well done. You inspire me to do the same. 😉

      July 9, 2012
  4. Love this Lana! (First time commenter, long time reader!) You have identified the frenzy that accompanies any day over 20 degrees perfectly! It is a good reminder to make the most of every moment 🙂

    July 8, 2012
    • I’m so glad you liked this, AND that you made the plunge from reader to commenter! I love your perspective on life – especially your twitter intro. 😉

      July 9, 2012

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