First Winter Storm

I’m the crazy chick you’ll see running in a downpour as if it were chill and sunny. That was me today, as I decided that over lunch I’d run up to the pharmacy and back, which is about 5.2K all around. I was smart to wear the one long-sleeved wool running shirt that I borrowed permanently from my husband. The way to the store wasn’t bad, but the rain picked up on the way back and I got pretty soaked, even with a cap. I ran my first 5 minute kilometer today during one stretch…mostly because I was cold and in a hurry to warm up. Funny how part of that was up the hill, and running back down that hill later was more like 6-7 minutes in that 1K stretch. I was looking at my stats for this year on Strava. This is including non-Strava runs when I was still doing the 10K program or any treadmill or other runs (like the .8K during last weekend’s 10K where I forgot to start Strava). I’ve run about 145 times this year, gained almost 3,500K in elevation, and run over 400 kilometers.

But this post is about the storms. I get excited by inclement weather. When I lived in the Midwest, we used to stand out on the porch and watch thunderstorms roll in from the west. We would stay out there while the skies darkened from black clouds, the wind began to whistle, and the rain blew sideways. We’d watch the lightning split the sky in flashes and listen to the thunder roar. We’d come in whenever the lightning got too close and then crawl down to the cellar if tornado sirens pealed through the air. I really miss those storms. The Pacific Northwest is so mild in comparison. But we do get some doozies, like that post-drought windstorm a couple months ago that caught half a million of us without power and knocked down trees and power lines.

I’m not sure that this storm heading our way will be quite so powerful, except for on the islands and in the Georgia Straight/Howe Sound. We’re supposed to get more snow in the elevations and 70km winds. Plus a lot of rain and flooding. My hands are still cold from running over two hours ago. CTV News called this a winter storm. The gray scene outside, softened by tall oaks and baring maples and feathery cedars, is foggy and mysterious. Can you tell I really love weather when it struggles, when things fly and get wet and blow around? We do need the rain and the snow, especially, so it’s all good.

As I was running, I thought about the increased frequency and intensity of storms that climate scientists warn about. I thought about the powerful November “witch storm” hitting parts of the United States today.

Some interesting lore about storms from Wikipedia:

During the witch hunts the belief in witches who could raise storms was not limited to the Tempestarii. Depending on a witch’s preference, they were believed to cause tempests, hailstorms, and lightning. Witches struck homes and crops alike, sank ships, killed men and animals, and it was believed they took great delight in the process. Church authorities gave credence to the belief by stating that God permitted the Devil and witches to perform these acts as punishment for the wickedness of the world.

Since ancient times around the world, the ability to control elements – including the raising of storms and causing rain – has been attributed to magicians, shamans, sorcerers, and witches. As early as 700 A.D., the Catholic Church prosecuted sorcerers for causing storms.

The most famous storm believed to be caused by witches was recorded in 1591 during the North Berwick Witch Trials. John Fian and his alleged coven of witches were accused of raising a sea storm to drown James VI and Queen Anne on their way from Denmark.

On the Tempestarii and Magonia see Valerie I. J. Flint, The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe, Princeton Univ. Press, 1991, p. 112.

Well, who are they going to blame now? The modern day “November witch” storms are naturally caused by strong winds that blow across the Great Lakes in autumn and by intense low atmospheric pressure over the Great Lakes pulling cold Canadian/Arctic air from the north or northwest and warm Gulf air from the south. Wherever the two opposing temps shall meet, a tempest arises. (Source: Wikipedia)

Today, during my jog to the pharmacy and back, I envisioned people running in more extreme elements in the future, but I thought: Well, people will continue to run, to adapt. I will be one of those until I just get too old. It gives me that runner’s high. Some of my favorite runs have been during storms.

I am gearing up to go back to running three times a week now. My back is always bothering me, but I think the gym workouts are helping some. I’m also just adapting to the pain. I try to tune it out. I’m not big on taking medication, so now I’m just trying a mind-over-matter thing.

This weekend we are having a guest at our house who is coming to speak at the Winds of Change book launch next Tuesday night at the Burnaby Library, Willingdon branch. Paul Collins, environmental lawyer from the UK, who wrote the story “The Apology” in the anthology, will be visiting for a few days, and I’m looking forward to it. Being a nature lover, runner, and hiker himself, he has agreed to some kind of outing the day after he arrives, so we are keeping an eye out on the weather but are thinking of going to Buntzen Lake for a hike. I’m curious how high up we’ll need to be before seeing snow, or if the trails go that high. Another idea is seeing if Seymour has enough snow for snow-shoeing yet, though I have never snow-shoed and my husband hasn’t since he was a kid, living at a ranch near Kamloops. We spent plenty of time cross-country skiing, but no snow-shoeing. It might be fun to try, but currently they have only light snow and I’m not sure how much this storm will dump tonight.