I’m not sure why, but I absolutely love fall. Other than the warm parts of summer (meaning sans heat waves), fall has been my second favourite season of the year for most of my life. Come to think of it, my having moved at a young age, to a place where fall seemed to be year-round, may have everything to do with my fascination for this season.
I immigrated from Paris to Vancouver with my family at the age of ten. And, along with a new language and culture to acclimate to, there was that oh-so very different West Coast weather. To be plain, I had never experienced quite so much rain in my young life, as I did in that first month of fall. Whenever I looked outside, it was either: raining, had just finished raining, or was about to (you guessed it) rain. I had grown up in a country with four clearly defined seasons that didn’t mix quite as much with precipitation, as every season seemed to, on the Canadian west coast.
Back when I lived in France, my two favourite seasons were summer and winter. The reason being that at that time, summer meant: months off school to play with your friends, go to camp and make new friends, travel with your family to new places, and enjoy the sweetest weather with the most amount of free time you’ll have all year.
Whereas winter, meant: learning winter sports, winter games, and discovering just how long I’ll be able to last playing outside before I can no longer feel my extremities this year. I’d always hated being cold, but I absolutely loved the activities you could only do in freezing weather. These activities included: skating indoors and out, skying, trying hard to build a decent snowman, snowball fights with the neighbourhood kids or with my cousins, and the list went on. Fall didn’t figure on my list back then, neither did spring. Both seasons seemed to just be preludes to the two that I absolutely loved, and couldn’t wait to be in, once the other had come to an end.
My first year in Vancouver, I remember being very surprised to see barely any snowfall by the time winter rolled around. I learned from movies, shows, and the neighbourhood kids, that along with the common yearning to have Christmas wishes fulfilled, children here also prayed yearly for snow. Usually, a two-week period of zero-degree temperatures, and maybe an inch or two of snow, is the closest they’d get to an ‘all-white Christmas.’
During wintertime, kids would repeat tales they’d heard from their older siblings, cousins, or parents of past snowstorms that’d fallen in the region. They swore those snowfalls resulted in their sibling, cousin, or parent being snowed in, and having school cancelled as a result. Basically, what every child dreams of occurring around that period, transpired in their stories. School and work being shut down, and getting to play in fresh snow with family and friends, all day if one wishes; was our shared wish for a local Christmas miracle.
As I got older, and teenage angst got ahold of me, rain, the principal characteristic of autumn on the west coast, took on a different meaning for me. It was moody and angry, like I often seemed to be, and because it was Vancouver, it was rarely ever all that cold. An umbrella, a windbreaker, and some waterproof shoes is all you needed, to make sure you didn’t catch a chill. The city seemed to disappear in the fog brought on by the downpour, its mountains appeared transformed by it.
With the wind, the clouds, and the precipitation’s help, your surroundings were able to resemble anything your imagination could conjure up. It was all absolutely enchanting to me.
For some silly reason, watching it rain always made me feel as if I was watching the sky cry, so I wouldn’t have to. It felt like all the emotions roiling inside me, were on full display and engulfing my vicinity, so I wouldn’t have to feel them overwhelm me. Back then, all I needed to do to brighten my mood, was go for a walk in the rain. By the time I’d return home, I felt shiny and new; cleansed just like the downpour seemed to do for the vegetation, and city around me.