"Dipping for memories" seems to be an appropriate way to describe how I retrieve my early childhood memories. Most of them, it seems, are rather wet.
Today when Brother Lawrence was talking in church he joked about how his family had been frequenting the Maadi House when they first arrived in Cairo from Calgary. Everyday he would make some remark to the lifeguard about what beautiful weather we're having. "It's a beautiful day out today," or "It's nice and warm, isn't it?"
He soon realized that people don't do that here. It's always a nice, sunny day. Always. So there's no point in commenting on it, a hard concept for someone who comes from a place where weather really is a prized conversation piece.
He joked, quite seriously though, that there is a 10-minute weather station in Canada that updates the weather report every 10 minutes and you need to check it before you go out because you never know if it's going to be warm, cold, snowy, sunny, rainy, hot or dry. People are always starting their conversations with, "Lovely weather we're having," or "It's rather cold today, isn't it?"
I told Andrew that was true, for Alberta, and that the weather seemed to change every 10 minutes as well. He still thinks Alberta is just plain cold, even though he saw how well chinooks warm things up.
When I first moved from British Columbia to Alberta I was very diligent about writing to my friends. I remember sitting at our kitchen table, writing a letter, and looking out the sliding glass doors into the little patch of lawn we called our backyard while the weather morphed from snow to sun to rain to sleet to snow to hail to sun... Every few sentences in my letter I would interject, "Hey! It stopped snowing!" only to nix that a few sentences later, "Well, I thought it had stopped snowing because the sun came out, but then it started to drizzle, and now it's snowing again."
The weather is never constant in Alberta and truly "nice" days occur so sporadically that commenting on the weather is perfectly normal.
Here we are full of hot, sunny days.
My early childhood memories are the polar opposite of Cairo, though. Wet, wet, wet. Puddles and clouds, rain coats and boots. Commenting on the fact that it was raining in Vancouver is as silly of an idea as commenting on the sun being out in Egypt. No one gave a second thought to a downpour breaking out unless it was abnormally torrential, which it sometimes was.
Once I was playing across the street with my friends Lindsey and Sam. It was raining a little too hard to play outside, so we were playing inside. The storm outside got worse and worse until it was absolutely raging. I was informed that it was probably best if I went home. My dad had to help me walk across the street, holding my hand the whole way, so that I wouldn't get swept away in the rushing river that our road had become. The wind was howling, thunder was cracking, and water was coming down in buckets; this was a powerful storm.
The power went out soon after we got home so we watched the storm from our bay window since there was nothing else to do, and because storms are beautiful to watch.
I was transfixed by the pattern the raindrops were making as they pelted the window when I heard a deafening *CRACK!* My head snapped up as my attention was drawn outside and across the street. I watched as the a tall, thick, sturdy pine tree fell, slowly and majestically, crushing everything in its way.
When the storm stopped, several neighbours on our street rushed out to see what the damage was. It was strange to see such a big tree lying across a splintered wreckage of fences. Luckily most of what it crushed was fences; it fell so it landed parallel to the line of houses on the street, instead of crashing into the houses, breaking down fence after fence after fence. The saddest part, besides seeing the tree looking so forlorn and out of place on the ground instead of reaching to the sky, was that it also crushed Lindsey and Sam's glorious swing set.
Their swing set was taller than the swing sets at the local playground and you could go so high; it really was like flying. Unfortunately, the sturdy steel frame had been warped and twisted into a letter M, having received a crushing blow from the pine tree next door, and it never got fixed.
It seemed to take forever for the men in the neighbourhood to clean up that colossal tree. I believe the deal was that if you helped, you got free firewood. Still, it took a long time.
You would think that after having a huge tree fall in our neighbourhood, we would have all been nervous about every little storm that passed through, but we weren't, because we couldn't be. It rained all the time. At least, from what I can remember.