Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Welcome the Sun but Don't Curse the Rain: Rainy City Beauty

For Pam, who says she can't see it, and for Marcy, who loves it even more than I do.

This is my story of how to enjoy a the rainy season, but, first, some truth. I admit it: The rain does get to me sometimes. If you're new to my blog, let me just make one thing clear: it rains a LOT here, especially in the winter. It's not very cold, but it's very very wet.

It's also very very dark. I took this photo from my window in the middle of the afternoon. You can see how a day like this could make a person a tad blue.

Jeans: Reitman's; Shoes: Ingledew's; Hat: D&Y; Costume ring: boutique; Right hand ring: Birks; Bespoke Pendant: Costen CatBalue; Blouse, belt, jacket, and earrings: vintage
It is rather bleak.

It doesn't help that I'd just been to therapy, on the 13th floor, in a tremendously bleak medical building, full of disability, sickness, pain, death -- but, yes, new life too. 

I guess the colours of the walls and floors here are meant to impart a medical sobriety. They also happen to match my outfit and the rainy weather.

My initial inspiration for my outfit was Bianca Jagger, somewhere around 1980. Indeed, my vintage shirt is from the 80s. (I had to remove the massive shoulder pads that were silent testament to their original decade.)

Moss and lichen on tree bark
But I quickly realized that my outfit was also inspired by the colours and tone of this dark, rainy day.

I matched it, or it matched me. It took little time for me to decide what I wanted to do with this post. I wanted to write about all the life that is fostered by all the rain -- the good that comes with the annoying.

Yes, the darkness can be oppressive, but look at all that life! You don't see it? Look again. Every little, tear-shaped bump on the tip of every little branch of this little tree is new life starting to burst forth. 

It's a lot like magic.

You notice it by looking for it.

When I've lived in other places, which I've often done, I've always missed my chosen home with an ache that made me feel like I was only half alive. When I was living in Toronto, getting my M.A., what I missed most of all was the beautiful emerald green of the wet moss on the trees here. It's grows so thick, it's like a forest unto itself.

The emerald green never goes away. See how it's even taken hold on the roof of our garage?

While the rest of the country is grumbling under five feet of snow, we have our own kind of snow: snowdrop blossoms, flourishing, as all life does here.

Yeah, I gloat a little, sometimes, maybe often.

Many people who live here seem blinded to all that life. They're under the misapprehension that it's still winter.

It's not. Most decidedly, it's not. 

It's spring!

You just have to know where to look, and how to look. Some don't seem willing or able to really see what's around them.

But doing the work to see, to really see, nourishes the soul in the dark season. It's worth the effort. (As I write this, I think of my blind friend, and I know that he will tell you what I too know: you can also smell, hear, and touch the beauty.)

It's not all colourful flowers, of course. It's also buds.

Everywhere, it's buds ...

... and more buds, life eager to burst forth in still more life!

It's unexpected beauty and its harmony with the larger world.

It's also unfurling leaves...

... tender and new.

You'll notice that it was very hard for me to get my camera to focus on all this tiny new life.

You see, the rain was falling hard on everything: my blouse, the leaves, the streets, and my camera, which took every drop as a new instruction to focus on the wrong thing. 

Let's try to find an interesting metaphor in that, shall we? Does that feel too much like homework?

Okay, fine. Look instead at the wet leaf-like petals becoming flowers.

Or the new leaves that are already as pretty as flowers.

I love all this new life everywhere. But I really do also find genuine beauty in the dark, pearly sky in winter.

Darkness has its place.

I've always felt that our clouds, in all their variability, carry tremendous mystery, almost like magic.

And so I dressed to match the day.

I recently learned that I may tetrachromacy, a mutation that gives a person the potential to see far more colours than the ordinary person can see. If indeed I do have it, I think this might go a long way in explaining my love of our rainy winters (and, of course, my love of fashion). To me, our winters are very colourful. Others most vehemently disagree with me.

I feel that the artist of this mural feels -- or sees -- as I do. The colours here are, to me, the colours of a west coast winter. When I was living in New York City, I saw a painting by a west coast Aboriginal artist who used these same colours. I wept with homesickness, right there in the museum. 

I love them.

Yes, it is wet wet wet!

But look again. If you drive a car, and you are able to both move and see, GET OUT and look around you. I'm disabled. It hurts to move, to walk, to squat down to see the new life -- but I do it. 

Look at that rainy alley and see the life.

Look again ...

... and again ...

... and again ...

... and again.

In my part of the world, it's not so much a matter of trying to foster life, as it is a matter of trying to contain it.

It will take hold. It will burst forth. Everywhere.

Yes, it rains a lot.

Yes, it's very very wet. But it's that rain that makes this land so alive.

What's a little rain in the face of all that life?

We know this about life: It can survive in conditions far harsher than we'd ever imagined. It can survive in the flow of an undersea volcano, and under the ice of the north pole. I do think I'm proof of the tenacity of life. With the life I've had, I "should" be dead. But I too am tenacious.

Yet, where I live, life does not have to be so tough. It thrives. Take a little joy in that.  Welcome the sun, but don't curse the rain.

(I'm sharing this over at Visible Mondays and Hat Attack at Style Crone.)


  1. Themematically complete and elegant. Thank you for such a cheery blog post that is so much like yourself. I wish good fortune for you and your husband in your upcoming nuptials.

    1. Thanks, thanks, and thanks. "Thematically complete and elegant": that's my goal, not always met, but always sought.

  2. Thank you for this heartening post It is rainy where I am today, too, and soon I must go back out in to it!

  3. I love the way the air smells out there! Your outfit is awesome; you look great and you've styled it beautifully. These photos tell the story! That pic, under the words "wept with homesickness, right there in the museum" just blew my mind. I had to pin it so I can look at it again and again. @anelia232

    1. Wow, I blew your mind! I think that's a good thing, right? Thanks for the photo shares too. It might attract more readers.

      Yeah, the air here smells wonderful, so alive.

  4. Living as we do in a dry city in a dry land, we understand what rain can do. It's an uphill battle to grow in these parched places. But we keep on trying.
    We have lived in rainy places as we chase the trees - Bushy is a forester. We know what it can do, in Vancouver, Tasmania, and Rotorua. I too feel homesick for green.
    I love, love, love your shoes! And your hat and shirt aint bad either. Enjoy the rain! xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Those shoes are pretty great, aren't they? They're Italian and soft like buttah! Unfortunately, their little stacked heel is quite painful for my back. I might try to get rubber on them to see if that helps.

  5. I live by the ocean in Atlantic Canada, and what I see in your clothing colours and in the mural and in the photos of the sky and rain are the colours of the ocean and sky and coastline. And they are some of my favourites!

    Just found you via Patti's blog (notdeadyetstyle). Your positivity and thoughtfulness is refreshing and inspiring. As a bonus, your style is the closest to my own that I have encountered so far in fashion blogland and I'm looking forward to learning from you. I am so glad to have discovered your writing.

    1. I'm glad you discovered me too. I hope you continue to like what you see and read.

  6. A beautiful post on the emergence of life and an appreciation for the seasons. You are an outstanding writer. Thank you for sharing your hat and your beauty with Hat Attack!