I don’t own an umbrella.

I don’t carry one in my car. I don’t have a micro-mini umbrella tucked inside my purse. I’ve never had to return an umbrella as I’ve never borrowed one.

I do not own an umbrella. I am a true Vancouverite. Born and bred and resignedly damp. I actually like the rain. More than the mountains and the ocean, it’s the rainy day that spells home to me. Admittedly, 40 days and 40 nights of relentless rain can take a toll, but for the most part, rain never fazes me. What does faze me is relentless sunshine. A long stretch of dry days makes me nervous. Day One of good weather sees me, like most people, delighted, although the undercurrent is anxiety. Balmy weather is a largesse I don’t know how to properly use. Unexpected good weather induces a kind of mild panic and will have me reversing plans, striving for a more beneficial use of the fortuitous bounty.  Drawing back the bedroom drapes to the surprise of a Windex-blue sky will turn me into a gobsmacked lottery winner: “Ye gads!  Scrap the plans to organize the garage! Would you look at this glorious day! Cancel everything! We must hike Cypress Bowl, sail Indian Arm, bicycle the Seawall!” Yes, a sunny day in the Pacific Northwest is freighted with unwritten obligations.

… a sunny day is freighted with unwritten obligations.

The reverse was true when I lived in Florida, I’d get positively giddy when it rained. Thinking of it now, I can conjure the cock of the head, the pause as I tuned out the persistent hum of the AC and adjusted an ear to the faint patter of raindrops. Moments later, the sky would open and Floridians would scurry for cover as if escaping a lava flow. I was exultant. “It’s RAINING!  Put on the kettle!” Nothing goes so well with a rainy day as a cup of tea but the kettle rarely came out in Florida. A cup of Earl Grey and a rainy day – that was my short-lived reprieve from homesickness.

Photo by Prchi Palwe

Poet Carl Sandburg said that fog comes on ‘little cat feet’ and settles over the city, then moves on. Vancouver rain is like an old tabby that takes up sprawling residence in a store window and can’t be dislodged. Our rain can persist for weeks, oftentimes, a half hearted drizzle but sometimes, pelting rain. Vancouver thinks of itself as an industry leader in the manufacture of rain but we’re not even in the Canadian top five. Prince Rupert, BC usually takes the blue ribbon for rainfall with other BC locations like Terrace, Port Alberni, Chilliwack, and Abbotsford coming in ahead of Vancouver. St. John’s, Newfoundland and Halifax, Nova Scotia also rank ahead of Vancouver for rainfall. These rankings are somewhat open to interpretation as they depend on what is being measured; amount of precipitation, or numbers of days with precipitation.

A pluviophile is a person who finds joy and peace in rainfall.

A pluviophile is a person who finds joy and peace in rainfall. Not owning an umbrella doesn’t make you a pluviophile. Travelling to Mawsynram, Meghalaya, India, to experience the wettest place on earth would make you a pluviophile. Mawsynram gets 11,871 mm of rainfall annually.  The Big Bog on Maui in Hawaii, with 10,272 mm of annual rainfall, is another famously wet destination. Compare those figures to Vancouver’s average annual rainfall of around 2,351 mm  and you’ll wonder how we ever earned the derisive moniker Raincouver.

We got a little rain this week – about 11 mm in Vancouver –  but even that scant precipitation was enough to re-order our catalogue of concerns. Stanley Park got a dusting off. City streets got flushed of their surface grime. Boulevard trees had their thirst slightly slaked. You may not be a pluviophile, but those trees sure are. In lieu of adequate rainfall, think about taking a bucket of bathwater out to one of those ailing pluviophiles. I promise you, it won’t be long before this isn’t at all necessary.

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Opera? Hated it  – screechy sopranos, bellowing baritones, silly plots – until I loved it (except for the femicidal part about dead heroines)!  I simply didn’t know what was happening and, in my peasant ignorance, consequently hated it. My ‘spark’ opera? Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro as interpreted by Robert Harris. Funny as heck, Figaro figuring out how to fix the Count’s wagon regarding his sleazy designs on Figaro’s sweetheart, Susanna. The Contessa’s clemency aria near the end had me teared up. Harris did the same with Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti, and then – holy mackerel! – accomplished the impossible by giving me the rundown on Wagner’s Ring Cycle. I still find some of the classic Italian operas difficult – Wozzek is definitely still a bridge too far – but thanks to such interpreters, I now enjoy opera, Mozart’s above all. And I thank Gluck for bringing in his era’s opera version of ‘Blue Jays in 30‘, for exactly the same reasons.

Michael Price

I started singing later in life, in my fifties,  and was fortunate to be teamed up with an excellent voice teacher who ran an opera studio. Thanks to him, I have sung as a rank amateur in as many as 300 performances of ten grand operas. I’ve sung in all of the choruses, all of the secondary roles, and some of the leads roles, as well. Performing opera allows one to find those hidden parts of oneself, sometimes scary, but always exciting! As my teacher, Richard, always says, “What can be more fun than being on stage in strange costumes and yelling at people!”

Dr Peter Munns

Love it! Was introduced to opera at a young age by my father.  On Sundays we would watch Tele-Dominica on TV and listen to various arias.  It was quality time with him, and I developed a love of opera. In 1973, I was on special assignment in Paris for three weeks and had the opportunity to see my first live opera, Il Trovatore, at the Paris Opera House. That was the beginning, with much more to come. My husband and I have been attending operas at the QET for years.  A few years ago, for a very special birthday, we went to Verona to see two operas, Aida, and Nabucco, at the Arena di Verona. An experience never to be forgotten!  At this stage in my life, I would say that opera is part of my DNA!

Gloria Bramucci

A guy I knew expressed it best, “Opera: an expensive nap time.”

Jeanie Parker

My love of opera is disjointed. I love listening to opera – especially the late, great Pavarotti – but I’m not terribly interested in attending opera. Maybe that’s because, at home or in the car, I can sing along. Probably not something other opera-goers would appreciate … although, in my head,  I sound pretty damned good!  

J. Smyth

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