Portable Weatherproof Husks

AYukoner goes south and falls into both pleasure and lament.

Oh, Vancouver. I come to visit you and what do you do? Rain, rain, rain and then some rain.

A fraction of the showers are botanical – the cherry blossoms in their final days falling in pink damp halos around the trunks of trees – but most of the showers are straight-up water, falling in drops, relentlessly.

One could be forgiven for taking refuge from an afternoon by sitting in the tallest library in Western Canada, sipping a latte while looking at art books.

One could be forgiven for (white hoodie, black coat, lime-and-white striped umbrella) taking note of the dozens of rain-protection varieties that we seldom get to – or have to – see in the Yukon.

(Robin’s egg blue umbrella; navy blue truck. Brown umbrella with pink roses. Rust-red jacket with pale gray sleeves. Navy blue van.)

While packing for my week’s holiday, I joked to another former West Coast kid, “Can you believe I don’t even know where my umbrella is?”

(Pale lemon umbrella, pale blue jacket, chocolate-brown leather coat, bald head bare.)

She said, “I’ve just taken to buying them as housewarming gifts whenever I visit Victoria and the coast. They’re always appreciated.”

One could be forgiven, or so I hope, for starting to read this stream of passing people – in portable weatherproof husks – as a lyrical visual flow.

(Burgundy umbrella, pearlescent coat, pattern of leaves.)

We will go kayaking tomorrow, it will be sunny here, someone has to promise this or the holiday will be wrecked.

(Yellow and orange jackets, black rubber boots, shaved head bare.)

And all the dogs on leashes: not necessarily a bad thing, but the dogs of Yukon seem more robust, more proud, than the tame ones I see here. And I’m not even a dog person, really.

(Black Gortex with built-in hood. Army green jacket, brown tweed cap. Goldenrod Gortex; white-and-gray ballcap.)

Not a dog person except maybe for my Dawson neighbour’s dog/god, the black mutt whose snout makes her seem part collie, and who does that thing someone must teach all puppies to do.

(White pickup truck, navy blue van and white cube van: totally rainproof until it’s time to open the doors.)

When and how do dogs learn it? That sad-gaze thing, when the dog puts her head on your lap and begs, silently, with melty-pleading eyes, to please keep petting her.

(Pale blue jacket, black umbrella. Yellow full-body slicker, white hard hat. Yellow full-body slicker encore, but now with a yellow hard hat.)

Glass and steel buildings shine with interior fluorescent stripes, even though the sky is barely brighter than a cell phone screen. The rain doubles all the light with each drop plastered against the glass.

It’s all looking like a poetic ending is coming into mind. A black Labrador waits obediently with its leash-holder at the traffic light.

“The driest against the rain is the self-grown fur,” my pen doodles on the coffee cup’s side.

Then a purse-dog the colour of pale straw yaps to be put on the ground. Even four storeys up, I can hear the sound and it induces a reflex of “aspirin grab.”

I revise my thought. “The driest against the rain is the one who embraces the raincoat of a well-trained owner – the raincoat, the umbrella, the handbag and the wallet.”

It’s a four-part panel of protection against the deluge that I might have to consider if I ever move back down here.

(Transparent plastic umbrella with white polka dots. Classy dove-gray trench coat. Neon pink slicker; denim Gilligan’s hat. Not bad, Vancouver, not bad.)

Meg Walker is a writer and visual artist living in Dawson City.

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