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.


Just Posted

The planned site of the new development is highlighted in red, with the existing Tall Timbers complex to the north and 56th Avenue to the south. (Township of Langley)
Neighbours need input on planned development near Tall Timbers: Township council

A housing development at 56th Avenue and 240th Street is on pause for now

Electric vehicles have a few different types of plugs but makers such as Tesla provide adapters so they can use public charging stations. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward)
LETTER: Electric vehicle infrastructure is coming

More charging stations are coming as part of the switch away from fossil fuels, letter writer says

Langley School District superintendent Gord Stewart provides a COVID-19 update during a Tuesday, June 15, 2021 board meeting. (screen grab)
GRAPH: Langley School District provides COVID-19 update, records 0 cases in June

During Tuesday’s board meeting the superintendent provided a look at the data

Undated Google maps image of Aldergrove Community Secondary School (file)
Aldergrove gets first electric school buses in Langley

Two battery electric buses are being purchased this year

Aldergrove Canada Day parade took place in 2020 with COVID protocols in place. (Aldergrove Star files)
Canada Day parade in Aldergrove set to go ahead

Aldergrove Star mistakenly reported that Township’s virtual July 1 celebrations included parade

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

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

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read