A field near Fort Langley shortly before Christmas. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

A field near Fort Langley shortly before Christmas. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Painful Truth: A colourful holiday season

Not just a traditional west coast ‘green Christmas.’

As of the writing of this column, there’s no snow in the forecast for December 24 or 25 this year.

Of course, things could change. The weather on the good old Wet Coast may tend towards temperate and damp, but that doesn’t mean we never have cold snaps, a foot of snow, or a nasty Arctic outflow.

But for now, it’s looking like another rather damp Christmas.

We often call this a green Christmas, but this year, I’ve been observing the outdoors a bit more closely. It’s not exactly green.

Nor is it entirely brown, the other colour associated with the season here in Langley. Brown mud, brown grass, bare brown branches – there is a lot of brown in the seasonal palette, its true, but that’s not the whole story, either.

What’s impressed me this winter is just how much colour remains year-round.

Drive out towards the rural areas of our town, and you’ll see the dark greens of conifers, the lighter greens of the grasses that are still hanging on, especially on the floodplains down by the Fraser, the Salmon River, or the Nicomekl. Then there’s the sharper, vibrant greens of the moss, still growing and immune to cooler temperatures.

Beyond that there are multiple shades of gold.

The brightest golds, of the cottonwood and alder leaves, are long gone now, but tall grasses, dormant for the season, still come in a variety of shades, beiges and oatmeal hues with varying degrees of yellow.

There are reds, too – vines and tree branches the colour of spilled wine or ripe strawberries. These reds don’t tend towards the gaudy or bright, though here and there you can find some holly berries bursting forth as vividly as the paint job on a 1970s muscle car.

Snowberries and fungi provide a sharp contrast here and there – pale as ghosts, or the creamy white of the underside of a toadstool.

The most impressive palette we have in winter, though, remains the sky.

There are people who would tell you that every rainy winter day in coastal B.C. is the same – dreary, grey, dull.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

First of all, unless it’s raining cats and dogs, there’s usually variations in the cloud cover even when it’s actively pelting down rain.

But our weather is always changing, and so is the sky.

When the clouds clear, we get that clear winter light, a paler blue than summer overhead, and long, dark blue shadows that are cast even at noon.

Then the clouds come back – some are gunmetal grey, darkening to charcoal in late afternoon, as the light fades. They can also be lit up in brilliant white, or tinted with blue. There are a hundred shades in a tall cloud, sunlit on one side, shadowed on the other.

A green Christmas? Not exactly. It’s a subdued paintbox, that’s true, but it’s rich and varied and changes by the hour.

Now, if it does snow, we’ll have to talk about all the colours you can find in light and shadows across a blanketed field, and that’s a whole other palette of winter to enjoy.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Flip City’s Elise Van Harmelen at the 2017 Langley Invitational at the Langley Events Centre. Flip City is one of 11 local sports groups getting COVID relief funding. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley sports clubs get COVID relief funding

The province is giving cash to groups hit hard by shutdowns

The first tree – a Sitka spruce – in the second phase of Fort Langley’s Memory Grove was planted on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 21. (Kurt Alberts/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Second phase of Memory Grove planted at Fort Langley

The first trees started going into the ground on Thursday, Jan. 21

B.C. MInisterial Order 425 and the list of permitted exemptions to wearing face masks in retail businesses and other public spaces. (B.C. Government website)
LETTER: Langley newspaper criticized for doing story on maskless encounter

Local letter writer shares opinion on video of unmasked man in grocery store

Two schools in the Langley School District have reported COVID-19 exposures. (Joti Grewal/Langley Advance Times)
Two Langley schools added to COVID-19 exposure list

Public Health will only contact those who were exposed

Jessica Simpson speaking to Langley Township council as a delegate in 2019. (Township of Langley/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Health privacy breach claimed by controversial Langley woman

Jessica Simpson is suing Fraser Health over an alleged breach in her health info

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read