Although Ontario and BC share the same 4 seasons, the flow of how the weather is so very different.
I've always found it special that on any general summer day at work we need an insulated jacket, rubber boots, rain pants, sandals, shorts, t-shirt and sunglasses all in the same 8 hour shift.
John shares his thoughts on the season of weather here after moving across the country to farm in Pemberton. The sky opened up to rain soon after John passed this on to me.. so now felt like a fitting time to talk weather.
The weather always seems to be a common point of conversation. Isn’t that the old trope, talking about the weather? Experiencing the weather is one of the things we all have in common, even if the day to day is different. One of the things I am most excited to learn about a new place is the weather. People tell you what the spring is like, what the second week of August will be like, and what to expect as the days begin to shorten and the summer wanes.
Coming from Ontario, where summer means muggy, suffocating heat leading to torrential downpours and tremendous lightning, without any breaks until the leaves change with fall and mark the beginning of dark, cold winter, the BC summer has filled me with awe and wonder. Patterns are much harder to come by, though a few have emerged.
Most days begin with some kind of cloud. There is often a layer floating within the valley, above the floor and below the peaks. Some walls shine through, reflecting pink and purple light through the veil. Other days a light fog hides the fields and blankets the cows as they awake. As the morning wears on, and the sun grows higher, the clouds boil off, and we start to shed layers. With the sun comes a drastic change in temperature, as much as 25 degrees.
Sometimes, the clouds stick around, but you can usually tell what kind of day it will be by midmorning, based on their character. Those more likely to bring rain tend to hang right next to the valley walls, their stormy kin sitting high above them in the sky like backup. On these days indoor jobs are planned to save ourselves from unnecessary suffering.
Days without the sun mean cold, even in July. In Pemberton, unlike Ontario, the heat does not stick around, and is completely dependent on the sun’s rays getting through. For this reason, September must be savoured. Already, nights are near freezing, and sunny days in the forecast look like a mirage. In a few weeks, there will be no choice but to suffer the cold and the wet, for this is all we will have.
Farmers are especially tuned into the weather. There is nothing besides water that their livelihood depends on more, and water is the weather too. As the months have gone on, each has brought its own character. Some realizing the predictions, some becoming anomalies that will be remembered and compared to for years to come.
In May, there were many hot days after the cool mornings. By the afternoon, temperatures were in the 30’s, and I was preparing for a summer of more to follow. Everyone spoke of scorching Julys and Augusts, getting into the 40’s some days. Brad was eager to feel the heat. I was sure I would pass out in the field.
I was warned about Juneuary, and right on schedule it came. For couple weeks, and even into July, it was wet and mild. The morning clouds never boiled off, and instead brought damp afternoons. It was good for our brassicas – the broccolis, cauliflowers and kales – who are fond of the cold and the wet, and start early and go late into the season because of it. But for the rest of the crops, like peppers and tomatoes and other summer favourites, it was a handicap. They would get there eventually, though we all waited anxiously.
But then, August brought its hot days. Well above 30 most afternoon, and no rain for weeks. Everything was booming, as long as we could keep getting water to the field.
For a few days, there was weather I had never seen before. Reddish dark clouds, billowing up from the hillsides. Fires. I have always heard about the annual forest fires in B.C. but this was my first experience with them. After an evening lightning storm, the only I saw all summer, a few fires were ignited. There was the constant smell of campfire, sweet at first, but then repulsive and worrying. Sight extends only meters in front of you through the thick haze.
Luckily, the wetness of Juneuary and July meant the forests were not too dry, and the fires did not have much ammunition to work with. After a couple days they were mostly contained, and summer continued with glistening sunshine. Unanimous consensus was a few early weeks of rain were well worth the avoided weeks of smoke in August.
And September seems to be rewarding us for our patience. The days remain hot as the nights get cool as we can enjoy the best of both. The morning clouds are a bit slower to lift, and soon they won’t at all, but for now they provide a complimentary accent to our beautiful valley, highlighting every ridge and contour, exposing the nuance in the tree covered hills.