The animals are talking about Spring already. The eagles are kicking up a big fuss every morning, announcing themselves. Their high pitched chatter, their aero-stunts as seen through my kitchen window as I drink my coffee, declares to all the creatures in Ucluelet that the eagles are awake and feeling pretty good.
I’ve heard a couple of people talk about seeing the bears again, but what really made the hair on my neck stand up was the talk of the cougar. The cougars are back, slinkin’ about town.
“I was walking back home and I saw this brindle dog crossing the street. Then I saw it had a really long thick tail, and I knew that ain’t no dog.”
Some parts of the world have a rainy and a dry season. As far as I know, it never stops raining here long enough to call it “dry”. There is always rain. I think the west coast wants the rest of the world to believe it has four seasons, when really, it has just two seasons. Asleep and Awake.
The rest of the country has Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Ukee doesn’t have a winter. Winter is when it drops below freezing and stays there for a couple of months. It doesn’t freeze here. Maybe ice will form in the puddles on the street overnight, maybe the damp air will condense into a feathery frost that embraces the roof tops and lingers ‘till sunrise. Once last year Ukee got a dusting of snow. But anyone living in the Northeast right now knows that ain’t no winter.
The bears don’t hibernate here. Not really. They climb into the hills and have a brief nap. Then they roll over and catch a whiff of the balmy air and decide to go for a stroll.
The plants are either Asleep or Awake. In the fall, they go to sleep. If they’re deciduous, their leaves will blush and drop, just like in the east, but it won’t be because the frost shocks them into hebetude. The trees go to sleep because they’ve been awake all summer. They’re tired. They rest. They don’t flower or bud new leaves. They don’t grow much at all. They snooze, leaning against the humid ocean air, swaying in the sideways rain.
I was surprised that so many restaurants and B&Bs were closed during the holidays. It shouldn’t be a surprise given the usual Ukee Hours of Operation, but I figured that a tourist town would cater to the holiday tourists a little bit. Kathy, our next door neighbour and owner of the lovely Barkley Haven B&B explained that it’s just plain burnout. The summer season is so intense, so busy, many of the residents have to rest. They need the break. The town is Asleep. And already, it’s waking up.