Sunday, April 01, 2007

It’s official – spring is here!

The northern hemisphere ties the beginning of spring to the Vernal Equinox, March 21. Of course, the exact equinox varies a bit, but this year, it was March 21 (more equinox details). For us in Vancouver, this blessed day promising warm, honey-coloured sun almost coincided with the end of a 22-day straight rain streak on March 25th. It also coincided with the appearance of the famous cherry blossoms, known as the first real sign that spring is truly on its way. Needless to say, after a winter with 30% less sunlight than a normal Vancouver winter, unusually strong storms, early and frequent snow, gale-force winds, and record-setting rain totals, everyone is much relieved.

To celebrate Vancouver residents are donning their shorts, tee shirts and thongs, heading outside for barbeques, and generally revelling in the “sunshine.” This brings us to a key point of definition. To me, sunshine is a golden-yellow light streaming forth from the sky, which, for the day to be considered “sunny,” must be blue. If the sky fails to be truly blue, I would call the day “hazy.” If the haze were a more opaque grey with texture, “cloudy” would be the appropriate term. Shadows always correspond to sunshine and one may find solace in the shadows from the sun, if heat accompanies the light. The other day was decidedly not sunny. While it was not raining, the sun could not be seen in the sky, definite clouds blanketed the expansive space above. No shadows graced the ground. Knowing that I hate the rain and am desperate for sun, many a cheery Canadian acquaintances asked me on said day, “are you enjoying the sunshine today?” I could only smile in a bewildered response.

All that said, we all know of warm, muggy days that are bright, cloudy and pleasant, if a bit hot. And so, the lack of true sunshine alone is hardly any reason to question the calendar, the cherry blossoms, and the throngs of thong-wearing Canadians. And, as this picture, taken yesterday, demonstrates, we have experienced a few days of beautiful blue-sky sun (just not on the previous day in question. Of course, the reality of true sun on some days only exacerbates my confusion as to Canadian use of language.) Stepping outside, however, one is not greeted by muggy warmth. No, even when the do clouds break and true sunshine appears, it is still cold. Not cool, not “well-it-certainly-isn’t-Sydney-in-the-summer” cold, not even 15 (that’s 60 for my North American friends and family) spring day cold. Yesterday was 8 (46.4), as I write this, at noon, it is 6 (42.8). It may reach 10 (50) this week. It is decidedly NOT spring, no matter what the calendar, the cherry blossoms, and the throngs of crazy Canadians declare.

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