Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Heat

A dull roar builds slowly from silence. At first vague whispers breathing a single key, growing to a stronger, choir of muted noise.

Audibly, the sound of traffic on a hot day is vastly different from traffic on cold days. I'm not sure why, but there's a different quality to the sound, as if it's actually a living, feeling organism being stifled by the warmth, 'hot noise' feels slower, more relaxed and lazy, while wheels on chilled tarmac sound as if they're trying to avoid contact, whipping quickly down the street to take shelter in covered garages.

It was this hot noise that I heard rumbling in the distance when I woke up a week ago to the first truly balmy day of the year, my windows left open overnight as the first opportunity to sleep under nothing more than a sheet presented itself.

We were barely half way through spring when Vancouver (and British Columbia in general) broke a slew of records. In the Fraser Canyon, they saw the hottest day since 1937, and Vancouver downtown has had it's fair share of stifling heat over the past month as well.

Summer in 2009 looks promising, and for a town that gets nearly five months of solid rain, you'd think a more tropical atmosphere would be a welcome treat, but it appears many can't stand the warmth. I hear quiet complaints on the bus home, frustrated sighs while chatting with friends, and hear that some are 'fed up' in the newspapers. I love it.

I love sleeping with the blinds open, windows letting the air in as it gently cools overnight, the sound of sprinklers sputtering and hissing quietly at three a.m, and sunlight striking the walls in the morning to wake me up while the alarm-radio takes a break.

Walking through the streets in the Spring sunshine, things are vastly different. Not only is this city itself a spectacular treat for the eyes, but the mood changes as well. People come out of hiding, sit outside at cafés and in parks, or meet in the evening to drink on outdoor patios, the sounds of casual conversation and laughter fill the air and can be heard blocks away late into the night.

The people are optimistic, full of energy and smiling as they walk the sidewalks.

Just as striking are the myriad aromas from the city's plant vegetation. My sense of smell is shot, but I still stop in my tracks when I'm unexpectedly buffeted by gusts of warm air carrying perfumes of lilac, lily and other crazily strong wildflowers. The earthen patches that have been dormant for so many months suddenly seem to be bursting with fresh greenery.

On the way home, dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops, I pause to snap a picture of the alley near my house, the end of which can't be seen as it vanishes into a light haze. Even the alley looks beautiful.

I will miss this town.


4 thoughts are now mine:

Kyle said...


Now that I have a photo of your alley, I will be able to locate your abode. And who knows what treacherous things I will do with that information!! MUAHAHAHahahaha....

Luke said...

You do a really great job evoking all the nice things and memories of summer, but I've still got too many vivid memories of the hellish summer we just had! (3 days over 43 deg. I can remember waking up at 6.30am because it was already over 30 and too hot to sleep. I never wake up at 6.30am!) So take your heat-loving propaganda somewhere else buddy, cos I ain't buying it! ;p

PS. I think there just may be something in all this global warming gbobledygook.
PPS. Vancouverites don't like the heat? I knew there was a reason I liked Canada.

Patrick said...

All I can say is thank goodness it's gotten a bit cooler!! Don't get me wrong--I love this time of year. I just hate trying to fall asleep when even a single bedsheet feels like a goose down duvet over top of me.

I think we have completely different experiences leaving our windows open at night, James. Whereas you hear sprinklers and birds, I hear every ambulance siren and motorcycle that passes by--with the added bonus of drunk revelers on weekends. :P

...although I might suggest closing your window at night once Kyle locates your address. :D

Jimzip said...

lol, yeah I'm guessing you're in the downtown area Patrick, I remember those sounds well! Good old Hells Angels flying down Denman at 1am... >:/

Kyle if you manage to find my address from that picture I consider you a genius! (Then again, you are studying medicine ... I don't want to underestimate your powers of deduction... O_o )

And Luke, I guess you're right, the summers back home can be a lot to deal with (especially with all that bad juju this year. :( Having said that though, I've never had a *bad* summer. Despite the close, muggy heatwaves (recalls sitting in Geography on a 42C day...) I love it! Call me crazy (or Debra ... but crazy works better I think) but I still look forward to it every year.

Jimzip :D

Blogger Template by Jimzip