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Lyrics and Life

By Caitlin Ward

04/11/2018

Sunny
Bobby Hebb

Sunny
Yesterday my life was filled with rain
Sunny
You smiled at me and really eased the pain
Now the dark days are gone, and the bright days are here
My sunny one shines so sincere
Sunny one so true, I love you

Sunny
Thank you for the sunshine bouquet
Sunny
Thank you for the love you brought my way
You gave to me your all and all
And now I feel 10 feet tall
Sunny one so true, I love you

Sunny
Thank you for the truth you let me see
Sunny
Thank you for the facts from A to Z
My life was torn like wind-blown sand
And a rock was formed when you held my hand (oh, sunny)
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Sunny
Thank you for the smile upon your face
Hmm, sunny
Thank you, thank you for the gleam that shows its grace
You’re my spark of nature’s fire
You’re my sweet complete desire
Sunny one so true, yes, I love you

Sunny
Yesterday, all my life was filled with rain
Sunny
You smiled at me and really-really eased the pain
Now the dark days are gone, and the bright days are here (oh, sunny)
My sunny one shines so sincere
Sunny one so true, I love you . . .

My friend’s husband keeps comparing this spring’s temperatures to last spring’s. He looks up the historical data on his phone and checks it against this year’s weather. He keeps telling her that last year at this time, it was warmer. She doesn’t doubt that’s true. She’s just not sure why he bothers to look it up.

I think it’s because he’s not from here. He’s lived on the prairies for the better part of 10 years, but he wasn’t raised on them. Most places that aren’t here seem to have much more straightforward weather patterns, and so he either hasn’t yet understood or hasn’t yet accepted that prairie weather will not conform to any preconceived notions about seasons.
Sometimes we have autumn. Sometimes it snows in September. Sometimes all the snow melts by April 15. Usually there will be a snow storm several weeks later if that is the case.

One spring about five years ago the temperatures were sub-zero until the middle of May, when one day it was suddenly 25C. I remember hopping over streams of melting snow in sandals, walking past snow drifts four feet high in a sundress. One of my friends got caught in a blizzard at the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border at the beginning of June that same year. He was shocked and appalled. He, too, isn’t from the prairies.

I didn’t really think about prairie weather, or how unpredictable it is, until I was an adult. It was a few years ago, walking across the street with a colleague in the middle of August. That year was a particularly cold late summer, probably only about 16C at midday. He and his wife had just moved here, and he asked if it was normally that cold. I thought about it for a minute and eventually said, “there is no normal weather for August, here.”

There is no normal weather at all, here. My father tells me that the year I was born, there was a snow storm in every month except July. Born at the beginning of November, my parents weren’t sure they were going to make it to the hospital before my mom went properly into labour, because the roads were so bad. I should note: on a good day, they were about a 15-minute drive from St. Paul’s. And it was 1984, so we’re not talking pioneer days, here.

Climate change has likely accelerated our strange weather, but hearing stories from my parents and grandparents, it doesn’t seem to have ever been predictable. We’ve learned to take what the day brings us and have no expectations for the next. It’s only when we talk to an outsider that we realize how cold it actually feels, how bizarre our spring can actually be, or how occasionally July feels as if the Plagues of Egypt have visited us for a few weeks, like a distant relation descending on your house and exhausting your hospitality.

I was reminded of this once again during a Skype date last week. After years of raising money, signing documents, and waiting, all of a sudden the refugee my worshipping community is sponsoring has a plane ticket to Saskatoon. By the time this column goes to print, he will probably have arrived.

We are lucky in the sense that he already speaks quite good English, and so we have been able to correspond with him over the past year while we waited for his paperwork to come through. We spoke face to face for the first time last week, laughing over the poor Internet connection and his occasional grammatical missteps that sometimes lead to wild confusion. It was when we asked about his experience of weather, though, that he was certain he was not understanding us properly. The coldest temperature he’s ever felt is 3C. When we told him it would probably be about that temperature when he arrived, his eyes widened and he exclaimed, “but it is spring!” And we laughed and said for Saskatoon, that was spring.

We explained the cycle of seasons in Saskatchewan as best as anyone can, and told him he’d adjust to it because everyone does.

I don’t predict he will get used to the weather quickly, though. As evidenced by my friend’s husband, no one seems to unless they’re from here.

It’s a peculiarity of this province, of this sweep of land across the centre of this continent. It’s a point of pride to outsiders and a source of frustration amongst ourselves. It’s always too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too windy. But I’ve realized, talking to our Syrian friend these past months, that if it’s the worst we can complain about in our day-to-day lives, we’re probably doing pretty well.

Ward is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer who spends her days (and most nights) working at a small Catholic college. Her less eloquent thoughts can be found at www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings