Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where the skies are not cloudy all day ...

Remember that old campfire song (best sung with an exaggerated drawl)?

Now that fall weather is settling in here in Ottawa (isn't it curious how that always coincides with Labour Day weekend?), I am starting to really miss the seemingly ever-present sunshine we enjoyed in Colorado. Just look at the sky in this photo of Steve. We saw a lot of that.

Living in Colorado for five years really brought home the truth of that campfire song: we had days and days of sunshine. At the very least, a little sunshine each day. We were told that Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine per year, and I spouted that statistic to everyone I knew, especially family who lived in British Columbia, Canada's rainforest. Yeah, I bragged. Just a little. Well, I've just learned that the 300 days of sunshine IS A MYTH!  What? What! Apparently, they do get more sunny days than cloudy, but, like many good things in life (where quantitative measurements may or may not matter), it has been overstated. Still, it's a darned sight better than the 85 days of sunshine per year that Ottawa apparently gets (calculated by dividing total hours of sunshine as listed on Wikipedia by 365. Yah, not going to win any meteorological or journalistic awards here).

Let me tell you, even 245 days of sunshine a year is really, really nice. I used to be able to count on waking up when daylight hit my bedroom window - it was that reliable. (Of course, I still set my alarm clock, but waking up to sunshine gave me a mental boost.) I rarely left the house without sun glasses either, because the sun was very strong.

On the downside, the sun was so reliable that the city skimped on its snow-clearing obligations and just waited until the sun came out and melted all the snow, rather than cleaning it up or using salt. Often this meant a day or two of driving on packed snow (a.k.a. ice) - treacherous. Within a day or two, the ice turned to slush, then puddles, then the roads were clear and all was well with the world, but in the meantime I was scared to drive.

But that was the only drawback. Now, here we are, waking up to grey skies and day-long drizzle. It's the price we pay for all the lush greenery that surrounds us. I'm not saying that I want to move back to the desert, but I would be quite happy with a few more hours of sunshine here.

Not everybody feels that way. Emily, for one, really likes rainy days and likes walking in the rain. In the meantime, I shall take comfort in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
I like that: behind the clouds the sun is still shining.


  1. What a picture, with those snowcapped mountains in the back. Here... it's just HOT. All the damn time :(

  2. I think I miss the mountains more than the sun. And the bugs irritate me more than the rain. But I love how green everything is, and watching the sun set from Britannia beach. Every place has its blessings and curses.

  3. Hey Annah - thanks for "leaving some love." Ottawa summers are kind of like Miami: drippingly humid and hot. Fortunately for us, it only lasts two months.


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