Monday, 16 July 2012

If thou dost rain

Yesterday (well, the day before yesterday in Hades -- Victoria is three time zones behind) was St Swithin's Day, and for the first time that I can recall, it rained in Victoria.

See, I used to be an ESL instructor and I taught in the summer programme at the local university.  The vast majority of my students were Qu├ębecois, taking advantage of summer language bursaries, a legacy of the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau. 

Every year, for the first two weeks of July, I'd listen to them complain about how cold it was.  I'd smile patiently and say, "This happens every summer.  Just wait until the 15th, and we'll have a hot, dry spell that will last until the end of August.  Then I'd explain that July 15th was St Swithin's Day, and recite the old rhyme:

St. Swithin's Day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's Day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.

I think I skipped the "dost" and "mair" stuff to save my breath.  

During my fifth year of teaching, one of my more advanced students mentioned this to the monitors of the programme, undergraduate students whose job was to plan the non-academic portion of the summer programme and shepherd the students around, rather like camp counsellors.  She reported to me later that they looked at her in bewilderment.

"Who told you this?" they inquired suspiciously.
"Well, Persephone," she replied, and she swore they all responded in perfect chorus:  "Oh, if Persephone said it, it must be true!"  It was then I realized I had a reputation of sorts.  Probably for being a smart-ass.

Anyway, it rained in Victoria on St Swithin's Day, so by rights, it should have rained today and for thirty-eight more tomorrows.  It didn't, but Environment Canada is promising cooler temperatures.  Yes, and a bit of rain here and there, which is fine by me.  I can almost hear the howls of protest from the Qu├ębecois on the university campus.

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