Cranberry rain, cranberry rain

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Cranberry rain, cranberry rain. Don’t you just love the cranberry rains?

You could try singing that to the tune of Prince’s Purple Rain and it might just work. I am sure some people are going to ask what a cranberry rain is so perhaps an explanation is in order.

Let’s start with a little bit about the weather and how it is recorded and promoted. Even though people have been commenting on the weather since the Stone Age, our attempts to accurately quantify and record it only go a back a hundred years or so. So, there is lots of room for improving the way we do things.

In summer, you can get a day when a rain shower goes through. It dumps a bunch of rain for a few minutes then passes and the skies clear. The land and bush stay incredibly dry and most of the water simply runs off. When the sun returns most of the water actually evaporates. In a few hours or by the next day, it is almost as if there was no rain at all.

Or you can get the same amount of rain on day like we had last Friday. Cool, overcast, light rain and mist that lasts for hours and really soaks into the landscape. That type of rain has a much greater effect. I would call that a cranberry rain because the cranberry plants soak a lot of the moisture up and they get a chance to grow their berries.

When people think of the Boreal forest on the Precambrian shield, they think mostly of the rocks and the trees but you need the forest-floor plants, the mosses, lichens, slime molds and fungi to have a healthy forest. They all have their part to play and often a short rain doesn’t really wet those other things down. You need a prolonged wet and misty day to get to them all. It is often these other plants and fungi that break down the dead wood and the soils that provide the trees with their nutrients. They also provide food to a whole range of organisms, insects and even mammals.

Beyond the benefits of a cranberry rain, when working in the bush I used to enjoy them because it usually meant a day off. A time to catch up on paperwork, sort samples, repair equipment. A chance to sleep in, to read a book or even work on a sketch or painting. All good reasons to have the occasional cranberry rain.

Personally, I like it when there are names or at least colourful descriptions for local weather conditions, patterns or storms. Take the fall windstorms, when you get one heck of a south wind. That wind could be called a houseboat horror. In Portugal, they have an expression “Raining pocketknives.” I’ve never been to Portugal but out on the barrens I have experienced rains like that although I might suggest daggers rather then pocket knifes.

In one camp, someone asked an old timer what the weather was like and he replied, “It is as calm as a stale fart trapped in a bottle.”

You have to admit, that is a pretty colourful description and a dead calm in a swampy area on a hot summer morning does have a certain foul odour to it. Another expression he had was, “It’s so hot out the pine cones are a-popping.”

I like that imagine of pine cones suddenly bursting open and the seeds flying out and falling to the ground like popcorn kernels.

There should be a contest to see who can come up with the best names or description for various weather phenomena in the North. Might make the place more colourful and interesting and I am sure the tourists would love it.

So, my contribution will be, “Cranberry rain, got to love the cranberry rains.”

What colourful weather descriptions or names do you have?