Saturday, June 30, 2007
Spring and Summer
Spring and Summer
The 21st of June saw the passing of the summer solstice, completely devoid of dreams. In fact that midsummer's night was almost devoid of night. Summer started that day as well. Summer came at the tail end of a spring that left me feeling cold. The spring was coming out of a year with too much winter .
Having returned from a short vacation in the Okanagan where summer had taken hold and the Kootenees where spring had lost its youth, I was struck by the different evolution of the seasons between the North and the South. The pace of the transition was the most striking. The Kootenees handle spring the best of the three places I have lived taking it on with energy and vigor that is highlighted by the snowy winters. The Okanagan does summer with great skill and energy, its springs are easy to miss as the lack of contrast with its soft winters make it some thing of a non season. The North it's strength is winter, but it still fits in the other three seasons on an accelerated schedual. So to the South to see green explode.
The Kootenees, Mountains, trees with lakes thrown in for good measure. Of the three places I have dwelled it is by a good measure the wettest, with parts falling under the banner of rain forest. In the parts I call home the snow melts starting in late February or early March. The melt is followed by the brown time, when the flattened grass and bracken ferns dominated the landscape. For the land back home this brown time is one of the few periods when a person can freely move about with out being tangled in grasses and ferns up to shoulder hight or bogged down in snow. Out of the brown, the fiddle heads of the brackens emerge and grass shoots appear forming the first delicate signs of life. The trees are slower to burst forth, but when the leaves of the birches and cotton woods take too leaf and the pine and fir put forth new growth everything takes on a bright green fresh look. This burst of green is the heart of the quickening and peaks within a week. Once this burst is over the green darkens and the growth slows to a steady pace which will persist until the heat of the summer pushes the plants to take a break. While the Kootenees get toasty for a few months in B.C. it is the Okanagan that specializes in heat and summer.
June, when the Kootenees is in mid spring two hundred kilometers west the Okanagan is in the start of summer. I spent a large part of my June brake in Kelowna where after deplaning and getting out of the airport I was hot for the first time in months. Even late May the heat was on, the temperatures were well into the 30's. For a man that has spent the majority of the last year north of sixty with far too many months of winter heat was a shock and a blessing. The heat was visible with swiming pools being occupied, tar in pavement melting in the sun, and the sun was bright and blinding off the freshly washed cars, it was summer. All that would change between the then and the end of August would be the severity of the traffic back log towards the floating bridge and the crowding on the beaches would increase. I look forward to in a few weeks time returning to the heat. Which leaves the state of the north left to explore.
Currently I am nearing the half way point of this work cycle. As I write it is the 30th of June and summer did not appear until the 21st, before that we passed through a time of cold rain and cloudy days with chill winds blowing off the lakes with the last of the ice still holding on. When I flew out on the 31st of May large areas of lakes were ice covered and on the larger lakes the ice road was the last ice hold out as it was the thickest ice. The ice is gone now and it has for the last couple weeks. It has been hot and muggy with the temperatures are around 25 and there is the continued threat of thunder storms that does not come through.
The spring that this summer came out of was less well defined then the Kootenee's season, it is a slow plodding transition. Much later then their southern counter parts the trees come to life, the buds and leafs are small and slow to open and as they open they retain the light green and delicate look of the first opening for weeks rather then days. A northern summer is not complete with out its buzzing heralds of misery the flys, horse flies, black flies, mosquetoes and countless other bitting sucking and other critters that make a living by trying to eat you and any other animals. The flies live in have haste, for no matter how hot it get or how long the day, they know that it will end. And end it will, sooner then would be hoped.
Space, latitudes and seasons, two places almost side by side can differ hugely in character, yet the differences of east and west diminish as you move north. For the South there is a long spring with the summer moving slowly out of a long spring full of growth or summer bursting fully formed from a nearly ignored spring. In the north spring is long but it is the early part of spring when life still has its weak hold that lasts and summer turns on with a definite start, to be met with an equally quick end. The South gives me bright flowers and tight mini skirts, the north bright nights and bites at night.