Archive for the ‘weather surprises’ Category

West Coast winter haiku

December 5, 2016

One thing I actually enjoy about Vancouver’s winter rain and early darkness is the neon reflections.

wet city(2).jpg

(A version of the above photo-haiga was published in the last issue of A Hundred Gourds)

Today, we even got some snow. It’s days like this that I’m happy to work at home.

winter rose(2).jpg

Getting ready for Chinese New Year

January 22, 2014

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Garden -cropI didn’t expect to see much in Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in the middle of January, but when I visited last Saturday, I found it blooming with red lanterns and bustling with preparations for Chinese New Year. I was also surprised to see winter jasmine in flower and many trees full of early buds.

The Chinese  lunar New Year (which begins on January 31 this year) is a time for sweeping away the old (dust, clutter, debts, worries) and welcoming in the new (renewing hope for health, happiness, and good fortune). Staff and volunteers at the garden were busy cleaning, tidying, tying up loose-ends, and decorating in preparation for the upcoming Year of the Horse Temple Fair, Feb 2 (2014). Red lanterns are hung around the garden to bring good luck (red is considered the most auspicious colour because of its association with fire, the sun, energy, light, and life-blood, which demons fear, so it also keeps demons away), and they welcome back the light of spring.

A few images and haiku from my visit:


New Year’s lanterns─
the courtyard mosaics
swept clear


preparing for
the New Year─
peony buds


still pond─
finding the courage
to say goodbye






Signs of spring?

March 2, 2012

I spotted the first cherry blossoms (and bees) in my neighbourhood on February 7, and soon after came the snowdrops and crocuses. It seemed that we had seen the last of winter and that there was plenty to inspire some spring haiku. What better timing than February being National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo)?

I had been looking forward to NaHaiWriMo (writing a few short lines a day seemed much more do-able than the word output required for National Novel Writing Month!), but was struggling a bit with throwing out the 5-7-5 syllable structure (see this NaHaiWriMo post for background on why 5-7-5 is no longer considered correct for haiku in English), and just wasn’t finding myself paused in any haiku moments. That is, until the very last day of February, and the return of snow.

Was winter finished, or not? Were blossoms covered by snow a negative or a positive image? The seasonal ambiguity and my current mood of life evaluation (partly prompted by turning a certain age I won’t mention) inspired me to play with a glass half full/half empty theme. The result is maybe not worth sharing, but here it is (with all thought of syllable count tossed aside):


under late snow

buried hope



under snow blanket


Ready and waiting for spring…

February 26, 2009

Here on Canada’s west coast, the end of February usually means we are moving into warmer days and spring flowers and away from cold and snow. Usually, we have a few days of snow in early January, and that’s it. But this year, some areas around the lower mainland have had snow on the ground continuously since December. This must be some kind of record for us. And every time I think we’re finally moving on, the temperatures drop again. Even my daughter, who normally loves snow, was dismayed to see snow flakes falling again last night and another soccer practice cancelled.
I woke up this morning to ground covered yet again by a white blanket. However, the sun was out, and after working on my novel for awhile (yes, slow progress is still being made), I braved the lower than normal temperature and went for a walk to visit my favourite tree in my old neighbourhood, a big old sycamore.


The sun had already melted most of the snow on that side of the street, and snowdrops and crocuses spread out around the base of the tree as if they’d spilled from it.


Afterwards, I took the bus downtown to see the “Legacies of Impressionism in Canada” exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. There, deeply snowy Quebec landscapes entitled “March” made me feel a little better about our little bit of February snow.



Snow still here!

December 19, 2008

View from my back porch yesterday:


Winter haiku

December 16, 2008

Even rarer than sunny days in winter here, are below zero celcius days of dry cold snow. Sunday night I came out of  the Ukrainian hall (after enjoying a colourful dance performance) in Strathcona, an old area of Vancouver, and it felt like I was walking into a different world. By then it was dark, the streets were pretty much empty, and there was a different feel in the air from the snow on the ground and the unusual cold. With the old row houses dating back to the turn of the last century, I could have been stepping back in time to Dickens’ world….Couldn’t resist going for a walk….









breaths puff in crisp air

Christmas lights reflect on snow

stillness holds the street


More wet stuff

December 13, 2008

Yesterday was a rainy day sandwiched between two rare sunny days. Unfortunately, I was stuck inside on the sunny days and was out and about on the rainy day. As I left the house, giant wet snowflakes were coming down. By the time I got to Commerical Drive and downtown Vancouver, there was just giant wet. I still ended up enjoying myself — perhaps because haiku kept happening (and creating anything always puts me in a good mood), and perhaps because I was still feeling high from good news I received the day before.

The haiku:



 rain on bus windows

 blurrs neon and car headlights

 into Christmas colours






buildings, sidewalk, street

everything is cloaked in gray

except a red coat


The good news:

My first picture book story has been accepted by Orca Book Publishers (for publication in Fall 2010)!!


And back to snow again…

April 21, 2008

Okay, this weather is really wierd. I’ve heard several people make comments along the lines of “where is that global warming we’ve been promised?” Snow on the west coast in April might seem funny (especially to everyone in the east who normally have to endure long winters and the bragging of west coast relatives enjoying early spring), but global Climate Change is no laughing matter. Flooding, drought, loss of some species and the spread of others like malaria carrying mosquitos…..

I’ve always thought a story can have more of impact than a bunch of statistics or dry facts, so in honour of Earth Day, I’ve posted a list of some of my favourite eco novels on the Chapters/Indigo website. Click here for the list.

One book, which didn’t make it on the list, because it doesn’t seem to be in print anymore (or at least isn’t available from Chapters/Indigo) is Secret in the Stalakum Wild by Christie Harris. I loved this novel when I read it as a kid in the 1970s. It was the first novel I’d read that drew on West Coast First Nations’ mythology and suggested the forest I loved was in need of protection (plus it was a riveting fantasy adventure — I thought it was a bit dated and didactic when I read it over again as an adult, but it still deserves a place on my personal list of influencial novels).

Are there any novels you’d like to see added to the list?

Speaking of….

April 13, 2008

Now the weather has switched to summer mode, and Vancouverites have stripped down to shorts and t-shirts! And I spoke too soon about being finished moving. Believe it or not (I hardly do), we’re moving again!

All weather at once

April 2, 2008

Here I am doing a reading at a school in East Vancouver last week (wearing my 19th century costume to go with my novel Discovering Emily).

school reading

Half way through the reading we had to break so the kids could rush to the window and look out at the snow (and blossoms).

blossoms and snow

more blossoms and snow