If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

Odd­ly enough, some of the biggest changes we felt mov­ing to Van­cou­ver from Boston were the weather.

First it was the weath­er pat­terns them­selves. Boston’s weath­er was mer­cu­r­ial — not in terms of mov­ing the mer­cury of the ther­mome­ter around a lot (although it did, to a degree), but in the true sense of the word. The days were change­able, con­stant­ly vary­ing, unpre­dictable, which is why hav­ing portable air con­di­tion­ers was not a choice but a neces­si­ty. The old joke went: If you don’t like the weath­er in Boston, wait 5 min­utes. Van­cou­ver intro­duced us to the mete­o­ro­log­i­cal equiv­a­lent of the long now. Is today sun­ny and pleas­ant? Then that’s how it will be out­side, for a cou­ple of weeks. Is it dark and rainy? Then expect the same for the rest of the month. Weath­er here does­n’t real­ly change here; it slow­ly morphs from one steady state to anoth­er. If cli­mate could be say, musi­cal styles, then Boston weath­er was Miles Davis doing be-bop. Van­cou­ver weath­er is Bruck­n­er, or per­haps Philip Glass.

The sec­ond change was, of course, the dif­fer­ent win­ters. In Boston, Decem­ber through March was snowy, cold, and dark, with occa­sion­al invig­o­rat­ing, bright white days. Here, it is milder, rarely get­ting below freez­ing for more than a dozen hours, but accom­pa­nied by near­ly con­stant rain and dark­ness. I thought that the lat­ter might bring back my Sea­son­al Affec­tive Dis­or­der, which (I now know in ret­ro­spect) doomed much of the time I lived in Rochester, New York years ago to end­less depres­sion. For­tu­nate­ly, I seem to have avoid­ed a relapse, at least this year. (We’ll have to see about next year).

The third big dif­fer­ence has been this week. It’s not real­ly the weath­er, but peo­ples’ reac­tion to it. For a few days now, the tem­per­a­ture has been in the mid to upper 20’s (Centi­grade — that would be high 70s to low 80s in Fahren­heit). Every­one I’ve talked to here has been act­ing as if it was an oven out there. In Boston, these days would be the relief, not the pun­ish­ment. The low humid­i­ty as well as cool breezes off the ocean make for utter­ly pleas­ant days, but to talk to some in my office or neigh­bors, you’d think we’re spend­ing a week in Hades. I’ve been accused of being a bit fussy about tem­per­a­ture (Pam insists on the ‘Mind over Mat­ter’), but some­times I won­der if any­one here (except those from back East, of course), real­ly knows what hot tru­ly is.

True, there is less air con­di­tion­ing here, although Pam and I both expe­ri­ence it at work. Here at home, we face north, and get no direct sun, so we no longer expe­ri­ence the sieges we used to have when we’d get one of those Boston heat waves (and our poor air con­di­tion­er could­n’t get the cold air to the top floor, where we tried to sleep.) I have no doubts what­so­ev­er that Glob­al Warm­ing will be in effect for the rest of my life, regard­less of any changes in the use of fos­sil fuels or oth­er activ­i­ties that might turn things around some day. If this was a hot sum­mer, and the next decades will make them hot­ter still, I’m glad that I’ve at least moved north­ward. Who knows, in 20 years, the new tem­per­ate zone that we move to for retire­ment may be the Nunavut Ter­ri­to­ry.