A curious lack of rain

If there is one factor that defines the West Coast — its flora, its people, its atmosphere, its zeitgeist — it has arguably got to be rain.

Here in Tofino (actually at the airport, 20 km south, where the official rain gauge is) we get an average 3.3 metres (11 feet) of rain every year (source).  Clayoquot Lake, among the mountains about 24 km east of town, gets a whopping 6.5m (21 feet) a year (source).

All this precip is cause for depression, commiseration, exultation and deep civic pride, for those of us who live here. Grey, dripping sky is the torture from which we long to escape (half the town decamps to Mexico come winter) and our badge of honour, certifying our superior mental toughness.

Rain is our Rorschach test and our social glue, our waterboarding and our baptism. The Wet Coast IS rain, and everybody knows it.

Continue reading “A curious lack of rain”

“Sound” for all

This came up at the book launch two days ago, when someone asked Margaret about the nautical definition of “sound” (her title being Voices from the Sound). She couldn’t say, nor could anyone else in the audience. In the interests of ready reference, i thought i’d put it down here. I don’t have my precious Canadian Oxford to hand (somebody who does, please plug it into the comments below!), but here’s some on-line elucidation:

Dictionary.com says, among several other meanings:

sound –- noun  1. a relatively narrow passage of water between larger bodies of water or between the mainland and an island: Long Island Sound.
2. an inlet, arm, or recessed portion of the sea: Puget Sound.
3. the air bladder of a fish.
Origin: bef. 900; ME; OE sund act of swimming; akin to swim

Excerpted from the Wikipedia page:

In geography a sound or seaway is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, wider than a fjord, or it may identify a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land (see also strait)….
There is little consistency in the use of ‘sound’ in English-language place names….
A sound generally connotes a protected anchorage.

I’m still looking for some official nautical definitions.

POSTSCRIPT: Compulsive research maven Heather delved into the Canadian Oxford for an entry that, alas, seems no more germane to Clayoquot or Barkley Sounds than either of the above. Here goes:

sound –- n. 1. a narrow channel or stretch of water, esp. one between the mainland and an island or connecting two large bodies of water.
2. an arm of the sea.

Urban chic, with a side of Toff

So i’m walking back from the book launch at the planetarium and i think, Hey i should blog this for all those poor saps now staring at their TVs in Tofino for lack of anything better to do, late on a Friday night.

I’m on the corner of Broadway and Kingsway and lo, there before me is the Our Town cafe, open late (Are you listening Tofino? Are you listening Ucluelet?) with free wireless (Are you listening, etc.). So i pop in for a $1.80 (Are you …) ginger vanilla tea and sit at a funky table watching Broadway roll by and blogging about the Vancouver launch of Margaret Horsfield’s Voices from the Sound — Chronicles of Clayoquot Sound From 1899-1928.

Margaret gives good slide, and the planetarium theatre was over half full with, at a guess, 150 people. It was a weird experience to sit in the city, watching a historical picture show of my sorta home town a world away with a room full of … well, who were these people? Grey-haired to a man and woman. Margaret seemed to know several of them so maybe it was the home-town crowd. Maybe it was all those absentee owners whose rampant appetite for condominiums is turning the town upside down. There seemed to be no lack of ready money, for at least a third of the attendees bought a copy of the book. The evening’s proceeds went to The Land Conservancy, more power to Margaret.

And now the tea is drained and i’m off to Commercial Drive, theredown to stroll. Who says you can’t have both urban and rural?