The sun goes on vacation, the tourists go home, the fish are fished out of the water. Half the town of Ucluelet shuts down for the winter. Seriously - Fishful Thinking, the only place to buy fresh fish, closes its doors until May. The Driftwood restaurant is closed until February. Jiggers, the fish & chips truck, is open when they can be, when they have fish, but even they are hit and miss. They don't have regularly posted hours so you can't count on them being there. The Green House Market is closed until sometime in the spring (alas, no sushi!).
This is such a small town. Everyone says 1500 people, but I wonder how much there really are. In the Pacific Rim area, there are something like 6,000 First Nations peoples, and many of them come into Ucluelet to do their shopping (the rest go to Tofino, I imagine). We have one grocery store, one bank, one credit union, two gas stations, a hardware store, two pharmacies.
In the winter, I'm told, people stay indoors. Lots of people live in their pajamas and don their rain gear when they go anywhere because of the torrential rains. A couple of fearless friends defiantly cycle everywhere through the winter, and they have the dry-bag backpacks to prove it. I will need new rubber boots, as after a season of my fish job, they both have cracks just above the heel. Did you know it is impossible to find industrial gum boots in pink?
Our only outlet to the world is to drive to Port Alberni or beyond. Normally this is a one-hour drive. There is a mountain pass in between, with its associated elevation and winter snow. That means winter tires are required. We don't have winter tires. In fact, our current tires are going bald, and that is very treacherous in wet conditions. We can't afford winter tires at the moment, so we are, in some ways, stranded out here on the west coast.
Now luckily I'm a knitter, and winter conditions like rain and cold are not at all offputting to someone like me. I am perfectly happy to stay indoors, next to the fire, knitting away. Also, as a former Pagan, I am mindful of the changing of the seasons, the holidays, the wheel of the year. In a few weeks, the Oyster Festival happens in Tofino. I'm not fond of oysters (ew! slime!) but will go to the Mermaid's Ball for the cultural experience and for the excuse to dress up for a party. Then Christmas is coming. I don't know if we can convince the family to spend Christmas here (I hope so, we have such a good space for it!), but I will totally enjoy decorating the house on a very small budget.
Then comes the new year. We don't know what 2011 holds for us but we do have a Plan. I'm not at liberty to divulge details of this Plan yet, but if we are successful it will mean not depending on a tourist season for income.
Also, being a knitter, January will likely be spent knitting for Valentine's Day, then St. Patrick's Day, then a sock marathon in preparation for the Knits by the Sea retreat in April, where Cookie A will come and share her genius with us.
By then our Plan will be in full swing, and I will hopefully maybe not be counting fish anymore. I will hopefully still be teaching knitting.
So I'm not at all sad or unprepared for the coming darkness of winter. I would really love it if I could spend some money on getting the garden going in the back yard. I would really love it if we had some visitors from other parts of the Island or Vancouver.