The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

30 July 2011


And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

People are fishing, that's for sure, but whether the fish are actually jumping, I don't know.  We don't have cotton growing around here, either, but Gershwin knew that fields of corn aren't as evocative as cotton standing tall under the scorching southern sun.

It is well and truly summer time in Canada, the Great White North.  Say 'Canada', and most people will call up visions of igloos, dogsleds, friendly people in toques drinking beer from a bottle saying 'eh'. Mukluks not flip flops come to mind. We're born with skates on our feet, we all speak French, and how wonderful to see the Rockies, the Great Lakes, and the Bay of Fundy any old time you want to. (We have had family come over from The Olde Countrye thinking it was possible to See It All during their holiday.  "Yes," they say. "We know it's big. But we've got a car, and a whole week!")

I have seen American tourists driving along the scenic route in their RVs, skis strapped to the top. This was in July. They brought skis in July! They didn't do a lot of fact checking while planning their holiday.

Here are some facts:  it is currently 30 degrees Celsius (86F), and this is a nice reprieve after days and days days of intolerable heat. You've heard the expression "So hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk"? Well, it's so humid you could... steam broccoli - if only you could stand outside long enough to do it.

Winter withdrew from the land more than 3 months ago, and the only skiing happening now is on water. With its retreat, Canadians perk up. Neighbours long holed up in air-tight, climate controlled homes poke their noses out of doors, sniff the air for assurance of Spring, and reintroduce themselves to one another. Gradually the thermometer climbs; life manages to gain intensity and grow torpid all at the same time as we battle the heat in our appreciation of increased sunlight.

For two trying weeks at the pinnacle of the season, Canadians withdraw once more into air-tight, climate controlled homes. Many of us are now stretched 50 degrees (or more)  from winter extremes and feeling the demands of coping with both the highs and the lows (wardrobe alone is a major headache, but let's not get into that again) We bide our time, waiting to resume an interrupted life with the patience that comes with accepting nature always wins.

Meanwhile, summer's alter ego is in full flutter:  Road Work Season.  Municipalities are in a mad frenzy to upgrade and regrade street surfaces, dig up and replant sewer lines, or simply divert traffic while road crews stand around looking at big holes. Detours have detours. Pot holes have nesting colonies of Canadian Geese. Multi-lane highways are reduced to single lane dirt tracks suitable for adventure-type reality tv.

Did the American tourist with skis hopefully strapped to the RV expect to find any of this?  What he doesn't know is that no matter how much we grumble about our weather, Canadians love the changing seasons, and are proud of our hardiness.  We exult in the first hint of warmth in early spring, and embrace the first crisp mornings of autumn. Surely we can be forgiven for a little  mild summer crankiness?

Roll out those lazy hazy crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy hazy crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

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