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Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

Living In Vancouver

Michael Sean Morris

Right now it’s raining. I know, I know… It’s Vancouver; it always rains, right? Well, yes, it does rain, and the rain features in the work of a lot of Vancouver writers, but this is different. This isn’t the passive-aggressive drizzle that’s been haunting our fair city 200+ days a year since time began. This is pure aggression, a driving downpour from the heart of a black cloud, which comes on suddenly and turns the street in front of my house into the northernmost arm of the Fraser.

When it used to rain like this in Regina it was called a ‘gully-washer’. When it does it here I like to think of it as the ‘Self-Clean Cycle’. After a couple of hot days the urine buildup on the sidewalk gets to be a little too much, sparks begin to fill the air, and Nature’s full passion spends itself on washing away any and all transgressions. When it rains like this, it does so hard enough to rinse the dust from the leaves, wipe away all traces of pigeon shit, and even scare the rats back into their holes, if only for a half an hour. It is, on balance, a beautiful thing to behold. In fact, I can’t help myself but leave my writing for a moment to watch it rain from the protected front step of my house.

Because it doesn’t happen every day, a rainstorm like this gives you reason to pause, to marvel at the singular phenomenon that makes Vancouver so beautiful. Getting caught in one is the first initiation you’ll get as a Vancouverite, and running out into one on purpose is a sure sign you’ll never be anything else. So after the rain has slowed, and as I’m toweling off, I’m still marveling at something that’s experienced all over the world and yet embraced, culturally, here like no place else. Fortunately, living here, I am not at a loss for words to describe it, though I am careful not to drip all over the very expensive keyboard when I do.

Already the sun is coming out. The black cloud, the one that had me running around and turning on lights in the house at noon, is gone without a trace. The yellow flowers on the tree outside my window have never looked yellower, and the birdsong that suddenly fills the air has never sounded so joyous. The rain takes a lot of flak from Hollywood visitors and tourism agonistes alike, as well as suffering the apathy of the man on the street, but I love it. When it rains, whenever it rains, I am instantly reminded why it is that I live here. Today I was re-baptised in the best West Coast fashion, and now that it’s over I am thrilled to have had the privilege.

© Michael Sean Morris June 2003

Michael is a Vancouver writer with a novel in progress

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