Having lived over three decades in Vancouver I never thought I would be praying for rain. I’d heard about the famous Okanagan summer heat and always assumed I would welcome the sun in a way only one who has been derived of it for months on end can. Well, that was then. Welcome to now.
After a winter of little snow and way too many blue bird days on the ski hill, Spring 2021 was the driest on record and now we are officially in a drought. Add to that a heat wave unlike anything ever seen hereabouts.
Located on an almost treeless street, on the top of a hill facing west, completely exposed to the sun’s blast of heat, and lacking central air, the house becomes an oven by early evening.
I lose track of how many days we spend in the basement, blinds drawn, fan on high. Craig ventures out a few times just to run a needless errand and be revived by the car’s a/c. On the hottest day the dashboard thermostat shocks us with a reading of 46 degrees.
I water the garden in the morning when the temps are only high twenties. Several plants look fried, not from lack of watering, but from being baked by the sun. The water that comes out of the hose nozzle is boiling hot and burns my hand. The front door handle, made of metal, is scorching hot. I have to put my shirt tail over my hand to open it.
The renovation crew work in the shade as much as possible, until noon, and then call it a day. Hospitals are seeing high numbers of heat stroke victims. Best for everyone to be somewhere cool.
We’re good at staying in, what with the pandemic and Craig’s post open-heart surgery recovery, so a few days spent hiding from the broiling intensity of the sun is no biggie.
But it all makes one wonder what has happened to our world? You know, the comfy existence most of us were enjoying before 2020 and the advent of the shit show that has been going on since.
In hindsight, it started long before 2020. It crept unnoticed upon us. I worry that we have gone past the proverbial tipping point and that the long-lasting effects of long-past actions are still to appear. Added to what is actually happening now, these effects will be amplified, likely making the entire climate situation beyond our control.
Ditto re: the lurking viral threats. Overpopulation, urban crowding, international travel, environmental degradation, poor nutrition, weakened immune systems. All contribute to the etiology of pandemics.
I know that this is not what you came here to read. Where are the fabulous hiking photos? The majestic scenery? Fun friends? Why is Bev being so negative?
I hope I am wrong. I fervently hope the climate settles down, we all start to get along, Covid dies, Trump is jailed, the Taliban goes away. I hope we get back to hiking and biking and walking and paddling and just being outdoors without worrying about a virus. Without being at risk for heat stroke. Without fear of fire and smoke and toxic air.
For relief, we head to the cottage where it is cooler and greener. But even here, surrounded by forest and bush, we feel very vulnerable. The volunteer Eagle Bay fire department is 10 kms away and, given what happened in Lytton, we know that an inferno can develop very quickly, devouring whatever is in its path.
The White Rock Lake fire rages just down the road, at Chase. We watch the wind shift and worry that the blaze is coming for us. Go-bags are packed. Important photos, mementos and memorabilia are moved to the house in Vernon. And then Vernon goes on evacuation alert and we realize there is no place to hide from the beast, as I have come to call it.
Complicating any evacuation scenario is Laura, Craig’s 95 yr old mother who is staying with us. With only one road out, we eye the canoe. But having difficulty getting Laura into the bathtub, the canoe seems an impossibility. It’d probably be easier getting Pico in!
Whenever the smoke clears, and it does from time to time, we rush down to the dock and into the lake. The water welcomes us into its soothing embrace. Bliss. I float on my back, eyes closed, letting the waves lull me into believing we might actually get out of this year alive. If we are lucky. And so far we have been. Did not get covid, did not die on operating table, did not fall to death at Cougar Canyon, did not expire in heat wave. Maybe that’s more luck than two people deserve?
We certainly had more fun than was probably our due. Stayed at the party longer, laughed more, consumed more, expected more. But now the party is over and most of us are pretty broken up about it.
“Okay boomer” … isn’t that what the younger generation says? Okay boomer, stop whinging about it. Get over it. It’s largely your fault that the planet is in such dire straits in the first place. All that partying and fun and consumption have been hard on the environment. And it’s true. Many, many of our fellow earthlings never in a single moment got to experience what we boomers have: the joy of a life lived not just well, but to the fullest, to the max, very supercalifragilisticexpialedocious.
When Craig, perpetual wearer of rose coloured glasses, says “geez, this is all getting me a bit down”, you know it’s gotta be pretty bloody bad.
We manage a couple of bright spots. A quickie trip to Vancouver to move Craig out of Seonag & Geoff’s house prior to their move to TO. Two nights at the Best Western Sands. A solo day walking the sea wall. Visits with doubly-jabbed friends. Stops in Kamloops and Whistler along the way. A weekend in Oosoyoos. A birthday party at Ellison. An afternoon on the Nolan dock. For a few weeks in June we get a brief window of fun between the pandemic & getting vaccinated and the heat dome & fires. A reminder of how life used to be. Before the party ended.