Positivity in the Bummer Summer

It goes without saying that I’m no fan of Mr. Sun. Wait. It really doesn’t. If you’re not a frequenter of this blog, you probably don’t know that – when I choose my enemies – I don’t mess around with supervillains, nation states or Fox News as suitable nemeses. Mine is The Sun. And while I don’t really hate things – as life is too short to be consumed by this negative feeling – I will say that I strongly dislike Apollo and the way He burns me.

So, you can imagine my elation on account of the “bummer summer” that we’re having here on the West Coast, arguably one of the most beautiful and radiant summer spots on the planet. Unfortunately, the Summer of 2011 has yielded more rain and gray than is the norm, even in the rainforesty Pacific Northwest. And some people are getting pretty sad (others are being downright revolutionary) about it.

Friends. Readers. Community. You need not be sad. Here are three things that you can love about our less-than-sunny Summer of 2011:

1. At least we’re not Eastern Canada! To quote one of our Toronto Correspondents, “it’s as hot as Hades here!” With an average June/July temperature of 45 degrees and an average humidity index of 6,000%, well, it’s easy to see that we’ve got it much better here on the West Coast. As is the case with hipsters, the West Coast is cooler than any of us would like it to be, but, hey, at least we’re not Eastern Canada!

2. Higher-than-Average UV Index will get you Tanned! The Sun will still melt our community if we’re not careful. Thanks to a thinning ozone above the Arctic Circle, the UV index is, on average, 4% higher than normal this summer. So, even if the average West Coast temperature is a few degrees cooler than normal, don’t be afraid to get outside sans-chemise-et-pantalons and soak up those burnable UV rays. In the business we call this a “used car salesman ninja tan” because you get burned without knowing what’s happening.

3. Your Spring Veggies will go Forever! I don’t know about you, but my kale, spinach and lettuce is coming in nicely because none of the aforementioned plants know that it’s technically July and not May. This will offer my lovely wife Michelle and I some nice salad and sandwich greens at a time when, well, our tomatoes and strawberries should be turning red.

So, cheer up, West Coast of Canada! Just because the irreversible damages of climate change are graying and sweltering our landscape doesn’t mean that we can’t have a great, community-oriented summer. After all, we got to where we are today by being adaptable, creative and by making the best of totally bummer situations.

Surviving the Filler Month

I have to admit, November is not my favourite month. It’s dark, gloomy and rainy. It does not have the crisp air and the brilliant colours of Fall, nor does it offer the magical snow and cheer of December. It’s the filler of the seasons, the sad and gloomy middle child, the second book in a trilogy that should have just been skipped.

So, what is to be done? Should one give in to the gloom and muddle through the month, waiting for December to arrive while mourning the end of October? Fear not, my Seasonal-Affective-Disorder friends! I’d like to propose some key things to get you through the month – and also hear your tried-and-true ways of keeping your spirits up as the cold November rain pours down.

Getting those receptors coated, one bowl at a time ...

Getting those receptors coated, one bowl at a time ...

First up, soup. A fresh, warm bowl of soup can do wonders. The science is still out on why this is, but I suspect it has something to do with the ability of blended, warm vegetables to stimulate serotonin uptake and coat receptors, thus increasing mood (and, as we all know, everything we say here at the Gumboot is always verified and evidence-based). Whether the effects are nature- or nurture- based, there’s just something about soup that soothes the soul. Soup is also versatile, and allows you to let your creative juices flow in the kitchen. There are a myriad of varieties, and most can be made using seasonal, local vegetables and adapted to your personal taste preferences. My absolute favorite at the moment is Carrot Parsnip Ginger soup. I very much invite you to try it out.

Use this handy Movember style guide to find your style!

Use this handy guide to find the Movember style that's right for you!

Second, get involved! With the weather getting colder, think about donating some time volunteering in your community or sorting through and donating extra clothes or blankets you may have to a homeless shelter – often, awareness of the need for such items only increases around the holidays. New Fountain Emergency Shelter is one such shelter that accepts such donations. Another great cause for the men-folk to get involved in is Movember, a month-long celebration of the moustache, highlighting men’s health issues (specifically prostate cancer). Across Canada, there are already 25, 174 registrants who have raised over a million dollars towards prostate cancer research so far!

Third, stay active. It’s easy to stop being active when the weather turns nasty. Make a commitment to yourself to get out and be active – a surefire way to keep your mood in check, and keep illness at bay. It might be a good time to try out an indoor activity you’ve always wanted to try, like rock climbing, yoga, or swimming.

And lastly, if all else fails, all you will need is three crucial items: a good book, a comfy blanket (not the one you’re donating), and a cup of tea.

So, there you have it. My top picks on how to get through November. What are yours?