#exploreKelowna (Part 2)

There are moments, above all on June evenings, when the lakes that hold our moons are sucked into the earth, and nothing is left but wine and the touch of a hand.” – Charles Morgan

Our hotel, the Best Western Plus (a pretty Cali-style complex) just off the main artery, Highway 97, was a welcome sight nestled below some lovely hills near many familiar restaurants and stores. The room we checked into was quite large with a small terrace outside the sliding glass doors beside a refreshing expanse of plush green grass creating a courtyard effect. A large birch tree, some shapely cedar bushes, and beds of dark purple iris added to the secret garden feel – our own cool oasis to retreat to each afternoon to escape the dry heat and blazing sun.

The four days we spent in Kelowna went fast, there was the lakeshore to explore on day one – we parked the car near downtown to wander by the teal coloured water of Okanagan Lake and take in the sun. The many benches facing the lake were prime real estate but we eventually found some cement seating placed around a sculpture of a large white sail by the marina – with the khaki coloured hills before us and the very blue sky crisscrossed with contrails from the many airplanes coming and going, we settled in to inhale the sublime view. Tourists and locals alike provided a never-ending parade for us to watch on the boardwalk at our feet until it was time to leave in search of lunch. The hotel provided a breakfast buffet for its guests each morning in a bright, airy space near the indoor pool and I indulged in fragrant cups of English Breakfast tea, freshly cooked cheesy omelettes with crisp hash browns and a mini croissant along with a variety of fresh fruit and juices – a wonderful way to greet the day and make plans for that days’ adventure including lunch even after a big breakfast!

Kelowna, one of many cities and towns located in the Okanagan Valley is known for its many wineries, orchards, and farms, sitting in an area that shares its geography with the Sonoran desert of the United States of America – the scent of sagebrush in the air quite different from the lush cedar notes of the lower mainland. Day two found us, maps in hand, eagerly setting out to visit one of the wine trails in the area, there was clear signage and we settled on the Lakeshore Drive route where some of the oldest vineyards are located. After a steady climb with a stomach-dropping view to the lake on one side and blackened forest limbs scattered on the hills to the left, we kept on the road until we hit a dead end. The beauty of the lake was mesmerizing and when we turned around we stopped at a small provincial park, stepping outside to breathe in air that still carried the story of the devastating fire from 2003. Our only companion, a lone raven calling from tree to tree as we walked among freshly fallen pine cones lying on the gravel parking lot. I wanted to stay and luxuriate in this wild place but there were wineries waiting for us down the road.

First up, was the wine estate of St. Hubertus and Oak Bay (st-hubertus.bc.ca), a modest looking winery that we might have overlooked had we not driven up to its prime location high above the lake – as we made our way into a parking spot and stepped out ready to explore, a tiny brown tabby cat came ambling towards us from one of the outbuildings, talking away and keeping close, to our great surprise, she walked with us until we reached the estate’s gift shop and wine tasting counter. Once we arrived, she stretched out on the cool ground, her work complete, to bask in our wonder and attention. As I took in the pastoral atmosphere, I felt like I had stepped into a corner of French countryside – leafy green trees shading a table and chairs faced the vineyard with an old truck left nearby that was destroyed by that same 2003 fire, not only was there wine tasting to sample here but one could learn about and touch the history surrounding this 80 acre vineyard owned by the Gebert family since 1984. In no time at all, we were called up into the dusty vineyard by one of the sisters who own the estate – she was teaching a few workers to move through the new growth on the trimmed back branches to pick off any withered leaves and wanted to give us a close up! Another sister greeted us and upon hearing our praises of the tiny tabby, introduced us to September, who becomes a little sad in the winter after wine season finishes. It was too early in the day for wine tasting so we purchased a bottle or two of their delicious wine at the gift store to enjoy later back in Vancouver.

The beautiful St. Hubertus Estate Winery located in the Central Okanagan near Kelowna, B.C.

A pastoral shot of the restored antique truck that was destroyed in the Okanagan Park fire of 2003 on the wine estate of St. Hubertus near Kelowna, B.C.

It was hard to leave this lovely spot at the St. Hubertus Estate Winery near Kelowna, B.C.

Our next stop was the Summerhill Pyramid Winery (summerhill.bc.ca), the largest certified organic winery in the region, recommended as a perfect spot for picture taking as there is a very large marble-white pyramid on site, an example of sacred geometry adding its own cachet to the peaceful setting. There was no friendly September greeting, so we bid farewell to the stunning view for a proper wine tasting at Tantalus Vineyards (tantalus.ca), in their gallery-style tasting room with the words from their business card setting the stage…be tempted! The only winery to be LEED certified, their sleek setting sits among other-worldly vineyards and quirky art installations, as I write this post, I’m sipping on their chilled rose…

The iconic shot of the Summerhill Pyramid Winery above Okanagan Lake near Kelowna, B.C.

A colourful glass weathervane art installation just outside the picture window of Tantalus Vineyards as we tasted their terroir-driven wines near Kelowna, B.C.

Day three found us lakeside sharing a decadent date square while tucked into the popular Bliss Bakery in the tiny hamlet of Peachland, just across from the boardwalk, which we later walked as loons surfaced from the azure water. Summer-like weather still dazzled our eyes as well as a lush shell-pink Dogwood tree on a nearby property facing the lake. Before we left this lakeside retreat we drove along the lakeshore drinking in the scenery and lifestyle of Peachlands’ residents – many take their camp chairs down to the edge of the lake to take in the changing sky and water.

A beautiful capture of Okanagan Lake on the boardwalk in Peachland, B.C.

Our last tasty breakfast on day four sent us on our way leaving me with a myriad of images – the pair of beautiful magpies tending to their young one hidden in the cedar bush, grunting softly each time we sat in the cool outside our hotel room, the riot of purple lilac growing wild everywhere eyes could see and the soft green of the hills cradling spring before true summer arrives to claim us all.

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#Route97 (Part 1)

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve never heard the ocean singing until today (down by Second Beach), as the waves slowly made their way to shore, each wavelet moving over the rocks and pebbles added to the melody already created by the moon’s eternal pull – what a beautiful send off before our long awaited road trip to explore the Thompson Okanagan region of our province, aiming for Route 97, a connector route inviting travellers to explore the Columbia Cascades area and North Central Washington, our final destination, the ever-growing city of Kelowna.

On our way out of Vancouver, after about one hour on the road, we found a sunny picnic table in the lush woods of Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park (reputedly named by a romantic, located between Chilliwack and Hope) beside a fast-moving creek, the run-off from still snow-capped mountains melting at historic levels not seen in a decade. The rushing water keeps this moss-laden world cool despite the present summer-like temperatures, the park already an extremely high humidity area allowing 250 species of mosses to flourish and delight our eyes. There is even one species of moss found only here in this verdant forest and in Scotland! Thick homemade sandwiches eaten outside added another blissful layer to the perfect rest stop before heading up country.

We took the Coquihalla highway up through mythological mountain passes and yawning canyons, memories of previous trips shimmering below the vistas passing outside our rental car windows. Massive waterfalls tumbling down sheer shale slopes dotted the landscape some still covered in layers of pristine snow. It was this ghostly moonscape now threatening the valleys below with potential flooding…a sobering thought as we continued to climb the summit.

On many trips back east to Ontario, I always kept my eyes open on travels up north hoping to see one of Canada’s iconic symbols, the majestic moose – no matter how hard I looked, this beast remained elusive until a casual look outside my window on this road trip here in British Columbia beheld a beautiful dark brown moose calf drinking from a culvert filled with cold, fresh run-off from the snowpack above. During dinner out one evening with my uncle and his wife who live in Kelowna, he said that in almost 25 years, he has only spotted two moose, proving they are elusive no matter which province I travel in!

As we crested Highway 97 after fours on the road, we stopped in at a very welcoming and brand new visitor centre (Route 97 Connector Visitor Centre) to buy an ice cream cone and get our bearings. After collecting some information, we stood outside high above a lake glistening in the sun and marvelled at the 30 degree Celsius temperatures with patches of snow still visible here and there. This stop was the apex of #Route97 and just over the ridge on a long, meandering highway, Kelowna sat among the ponderosa pine waiting to welcome us.

The perfect view from our picnic table in Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park located in beautiful British Columbia near the city of Hope.

An aerial view of some of the incredible mosses draping the ancient trees in the park (Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, B.C.)

This is my Knight of the Green Wood found among the broadleaf maples and cedars of Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, B.C. Can you see him?

A shout-out to Terry’s sister Karen who came out from Ontario to spend one of the warmest and driest May months on record with us and made this special trip possible!

 

 

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Summon Down the Spring

Time and space are the tools of the observer.” – Emmanuel Kant

Pale sunlight paints the sidewalk in charcoal shapes, revealing delicate calligraphy previously hidden by cool rain. Patience has fled as winter keeps looking back, finding ways to linger and chase away any warmth.

The signs are all there – the wood smoke of autumn replaced by the exquisite scent of flowers, the crows who were playing just days ago now scouting for leafing trees in which to build sturdy nests for the young yet to come and in the lush green enveloping great swathes of the park whenever I look out my windows.

On a day without a book, a spring-scented rain is falling again, the air alive with the perfume of poplar trees making one dream of summer. Thankfully, photography and art exhibitions are claiming my attention in between bookish worlds – I recently enjoyed a free photography exhibit at the Pendulum Gallery downtown, showcasing the work of Canadian photojournalists bravely documenting our dynamic world, ranging from the tragic earthquake in Mexico in 2017 to last summer’s wildfires up near Williams Lake here in British Columbia. After this rare interlude, I met my friend at the Vancouver Art Gallery (we often meet on a Tuesday to take advantage of the admission by donation hours!) to check out the wild and colourful Takashi Murakami exhibit, spending over an hour taking in all the wonderful ice cream dripping details.

The city is full of photography at the moment with the Capture Photography Festival in full swing – I came across a cool quote (which opens my post) as I took in a small exhibit at the Moat Gallery located at our downtown public library, my next wander is slated for the Listel Hotel on Robson St. to check out, Capture Dreams Powered by Fujifilm, another Group Exhibition taking part in the festival, lovely distractions as my next read remains elusive!

A weekend walk by the ocean yielded some welcome sights underneath a sunny sky – an older gentleman sitting on a worn bench engrossed in Ernest Hemingway, his eyes intent on the pages with the briny scent of the sea wafting through the air, colourful rubber balls being thrown back and forth by happy children on the damp sand and the appearance of once hibernating neighbours on the seawall, faces smiling in the burgeoning warmth, summoning down the spring.

Lush cherry blossom trees found at the end of our street at the edge of Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

Our favourite trail near the Railway Cafe in Stanley Park is open on the weekends now…we had our first picnic of the season here recently near the Stanley Park Railway ticket office.

There is nothing better than lovely shadows captured on a warm spring day near the Grove in Stanley Park!

 

 

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Fractured

Startling the reverie among newly

green trees,

dystopian voices undulate over 

autumn strewn paths,

piercing through well tended worlds

regardless of  collected dreams.

These are our brothers and sisters

thrown to the wolves of winter,

spring but a distant memory

as out of reach as remembering mother’s

gentle touch,

leaving us nameless and summer yearning

for a better world.

Lush cherry blossom trees captured near The Chapel at the edge of Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

 

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Rising, Falling

So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.” – E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

It’s the last day of winter and it feels like I might never write again even though spring has gently stepped onto the stage. The magnolia trees marching up the street to my Mom’s apartment building have silently blossomed into delicate shades of pink announcing warmer days to come.

I find myself these days making my way through hospital corridors to stand by the bedside of my father and just recently, my mother’s as she lay waiting in Emergency for the results of a test revealing a possible complication from an injury she suffered almost a year ago. Dad has had over a year and a half of struggling with various health challenges culminating in surgery. My world has become smaller, days now taken up with visits to the hospital, attending to the ebb and flow of emails and the numerous calls from the many professionals caring for him – finding time to write is rare at the moment but when I do I am comforted by the words flowing from my pen.

In the rising and falling of my breath and life itself, I try to collect odd moments to gather my thoughts, pray, and appreciate the new road I’m on. A warm shower, a beloved book and a cup of tea are constant companions. Overlaying the uncertainty, spring lets me know it’s unfolding around me no matter what and not to be missed!

And to my great joy, here I am, drinking a soothing hot chocolate, smooth jazz polishing the rough edges I woke up with as I write down the words moving through me at my favourite nook, Veranda Café. Minutes ago, I was lost in dusting, decluttering and organizing my space, tasks to ground my restless spirit. Outside my open window I could hear a blackbird beeping in vibrato making me laugh as my green cloth did its work.

This rising and falling is part of life – I have to make sure I get enough sleep, create space between visits to the hospital for a fragrant chai tea with my Mom, sit on our hill in the sun after a long walk through the park and revel in the wild beauty crouching at the edge of worry ready to catch me if I fall.

The cherry blossoms in all their lush beauty located on Chilco Street here in the West End (Vancouver, B.C.).

A bed of vibrant orange tulips captured at the Rose Garden in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.)

Blue on blue…a gorgeous capture of fragrant hyacinths taken at the Rose Garden in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

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The Lost Chronicle

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

A winter walk two days after a fierce overnight snowfall left the air so cold, it carried the remnants of burnt wood on each inhale, its oxygen so pure among the tall cedars it left me lightheaded as I made my way to the rolling surf. The primordial sound of the forever waves invited new energy to rise from dormant places within, while an otherworldly call from a crow rose as if from the very sea itself, my eyes later finding it perched safely upon a series of glistening rocks adding to the ethereal atmosphere…how was I to know that this would be the final storm of the season, its stark beauty destined to be overtaken by lush green?

And yes, there is new growth erupting from winter-weary trees and bushes despite winter’s last stand with chubby robins congregating on newly verdant lawns, feasting upon unseen morsels while the crows and gulls wheel overhead beneath a crystalline sky. Brilliant sunshine and yellow witch hazel brighten the waning of this winter heralding warmer days to come…

I recently noticed a winter advertisement for the movie, “A Wrinkle in Time”, based upon the book by Madeleine L’Engle, prompting me to wander through our library’s digital catalogue to look for any titles I may have missed, having read so many of her books over the years. As a young adult her books kept me company in between shifts worked at a newly opened long term care facility as I navigated living on my own for the first time. Imagine my surprise to see a title I thought lost, a small novel belonging to a quintet, a “lost chronicle” now found. It’s called, “The Young Unicorns”, blending both fantasy and suspense in the always fascinating city of New York – her familiar pages now keeping me company each evening before spring’s lengthening light calls me away from cozier pursuits. There are small piles of sooty snow still to be found at the edges of the park even as cherry blossoms punctuate the last day of winter in delicate pink, yet another chronicle lost to time waiting for me to stumble upon it once again.

Ethereal fog captured on one of our last days of winter overlooking Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

One of the many paths in the forest beckoning us from hibernation in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.). Spring is here after a long winter’s nap!

 

 

 

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Flashback

An unwanted visit to a forgotten childhood realm

overcomes me as I walk upon a muddied path

between bird-filled hedgerow and crumbling cement – 

the quiet softness of winter-dark broken by laboured breath

 running against time, hopping over fences

and  cutting through yards,

all after school cares evaporating fast

amid the thundering threat  behind, nightmare come to life – 

through sheer will, never caught, and yet,

the beauty of a path far in the future,

has the power to send me hurtling down the corridors of my heart

once again.

A beautiful winter shot of a city corridor near Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.).

 

 

 

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