Saturday, January 5, 2019

ROBBLOG #762- January on the Island

Trees and Christmas decorations are all packed away in the cupboard under the stairs.
New socks are stuffed into already bulging sock drawers in my dresser.
I've made room made for new shirts in an equally over-stuffed closet.

It must be January on the Island.
I have made a mental note to go through my closet and send shirts that I no longer wear to one of the plethora of thrift shops around Duncan. I mean this is a new house and my closets are already bursting! Well, I am such a fashion horse you know.

I have to admit outside of living year-round in Hawaii under a tropical sun, Vancouver Island is hard to beat. This Mediterranean climate never ceases to amaze me. It is January but it sure doesn't feel like it.

We have had a lot more rain this December than the day after day of sunshine we experienced last year.
You know what?
I don't mind it one bit. All I have to recall is -20c temperatures, windchills of minus 35 and 25 to 30 cms of snow falling in a few hours and I snap back to "Island Reality".
January is indeed starting off damp and windy. We got many calls and texts when the windstorm just before Christmas Day hit the national news. We had no power for 14 hours but many Islanders had it much worse. Islands like Saltspring waited longer to have hydro service restored and had much worse damage.

No, I'll take this weather any day as long as we don't get blown to kingdom come!
No snow.
Mild days with temps in the 7 to 11c range. Mild overnights with temps around 4c.
Right now, we are seeing winter colour from Heather- both pink and white, as well as Camelia,
Winter Jasmine and Oregon Grape.

I have a pot of Primulas I bought last January that are blooming in their pot on a table next to the Muskoka Chairs at the front of the house. A Boston Fern sits in a heavy, red-coloured urn near the front door.
Try that back east!
Hostas are up about 8 inches and Tom's Lillies are all showing signs of green. A pair of evergreen clemantis are trailing over the arbour in our back yard with huge buds about to bloom.
New buds are on a couple of rose bushes and I can see welcome new growth on our lavender bushes and palms. We may still get a nippy night or two but these evergreen plants- like the palms, can take it!

Arbutus trees look like this year round.
It plays with your mind that this is the first week in January.
It seems it takes a long while to erase the memories of cold, Ontario January days. I wake up some mornings and think- Ugh! January.
Then, when my groggy brain awakens a bit more, I think- Oh right! The Cowichan on Vancouver Island. Mediterranean climate. No miserable, biting cold.

We do get some frost on the rooftops if it dips below zero but it's been a while since that has happened what with 4 or 5 degree lows overnight.

It is still strange not to see rack after rack of fake, fur-lined winter parkas in the stores. Even at Mark's in Canadian Tire there are just a couple of racks. People do travel to the mainland and maybe even up to Kamploops at the head of the Coquihalla, so there is a need for winter wear yet I have had no reason to take out my winter ski jackets from their dry cleaning bags. That's how they came to the island.

I have to laugh when I see ice scrapers and brushes on the Home Hardware flyer- occasionally. I don't think they sell many of those with the Island edition of the flyer.

Over Christmas, one never sees toboggans or sleds in stores. I am sure very few kids wake up Christmas morning finding Santa has left then with a brand new, spanking red sleigh. More likely a red bike with matching helmet or roller blades or skateboard. I may have said before that the island does offer sledding and snowmobiling but one has to drive to Courtney/Comax which is about two hours drive away from us in Duncan.

Magnolia Trees are Evergreen
Three hours away up island- to Nanaimo first then, left- or west, people flock to Tofino to watch the surfers or at least the gigantic Pacific waves during January and February. That's as far west as you can get in this massive country of ours.

I has shorts on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was about 8 or 10 degrees with brilliant sunshine. Today I saw a fellah in Winners wearing shorts and flip-flops- not an unusual sight but probably from Alberta. Nobody bats an eye. It's the Island!

Car Wash Plantings
I still vividly remember knocking loose huge chunks of salt-laden ice from up under our van's wheel wells. Kicking with all your might, the blocks of ice stayed put or at least fell off with part of your vehicle still attached. Taking your vehicle to a car wash on a day when the temperature managed to stay above freezing was a regular winter pastime. Here, we don't have to wash the van that much but if winter showers have left some dirt residue along the side, we slide over to the car wash to give it a rinse and a polish while admiring the flowers planted next to the paved boulevard leading us into the wash bay.

Tom says to me yesterday- "With this rain and milder temps, maybe we'll have to cut our grass by the end of January and not mid-February like last year."

Truer words...