What’s normal?

It’s funny to realize that the environment we grew up with tends to become “the norm,” and most of us seem to unconsciously decide early on what is “normal” and what isn’t.

Growing up in southern Brazil, sunset in the summer would be no later than 8:30 p.m., and the sun would only rise around 7 a.m. When I first moved to Burns Lake, I was surprised by how much I struggled with the “incredibly long” daylight hours in the summer.

I would feel guilty relaxing at home after work. Since it was still bright outside, relaxing or going to bed just felt wrong. And when the sun was up at 4 a.m., sometimes I would wake up thinking that it was time to get up and go to work.

I would take pictures of Burns Lake after 10 p.m., while it was still bright outside, and send it to my friends and family in Brazil (who seemed equally impressed).

Meanwhile I noticed that when I would tell my friends in Burns Lake about my struggle, it seemed hard for them to grasp what I was talking about. After all, to them this is normal.

Although I am much better at dealing with the daylight hours of northern B.C., this year I surprised myself again when I started missing the rain. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it rains in Burns Lake, but I honestly can’t remember an actual storm, or those days when you can’t go outside or you’ll get soaked; or being home listening to the rain and thunder while reading a great novel.

I can only remember light drizzles. In fact, I don’t even own an umbrella (and I know most people here don’t). Out of all the things in the world, I never thought that I would be missing the rain.

Another thing I found curious when I moved out here was the short length of the growing season. I was surprised to hear that people wait until the May long weekend to start planting. I recently told that to my mother, who still lives in Brazil, and she was in disbelief. After all, to people out there, planting all year long is “normal.”

But perhaps the thing that catches my eye the most out here is the temperature. Back where I grew up, anything less than 20 C would be considered “cold,” and so 20 C would be the “normal” temperature.

In here, and in many parts of northern Canada, 20 C is considered a hot day (some people will even complain). I really struggled to understand that at first, but now I actually get it.

It took me a while to understand that there’s no “normal,” and that what you unconsciously decide growing up isn’t the norm.