I went home to the Okanagan this weekend. Not that I lived there very long, but it was a very special place, and driving along highway 97, the road sometimes hugging the shore of Okanagan Lake, made it seem like just a while ago. It tugged at my heart, and brought back wonderful memories.
My family moved around a fair bit. It wasn’t that my Dad worked in a field that required that; it was more that he was a greener pastures kind-of-guy. The short time we spent in Summerland, B.C. was idyllic. We rented a house on top of a hill surrounded by orchards. We were free to help ourselves to the fruit from the various surrounding orchards, which were rented by someone else. As an 8 year old, I enjoyed exploring the area with my older sister and two younger brothers. We had special place names for various spots: a neighbouring hill with pine trees, a lower pasture that had some horses, the apricot grove, a nearby gravel pit. We had a little clubhouse in a tiny outbuilding, and collected birds nests, and any other interesting things we could find.
Our garden boasted strawberries and raspberries; and the basement had a real root cellar for storing carrots and potatoes and canned goods. It was at that time that we got our precious beagle puppy, Daisy. We adored her. She ran around the tall grass in the orchards and all you could see was the white tip of her tail, wagging. The house looked out over the lake and down below at Rotary Beach we learned to swim. Years later in (Catholic) school, when the topic of “heaven” was discussed, my brother said: “I thought heaven was in Summerland?”
This time my visit was threefold. I got to spend some time with treasured friends; I had to do some local research for a project I’m starting on in the area; and most importantly I visited my Dad, 82, who happens to be back living in Penticton, and broached the subject of him moving down to Vancouver to be closer to us, so I would be 5 minutes away rather than four hours, as he moves towards a more care-intensive phase of his life.
It’s a long time since this photo, from 1968. I’m holding Daisy, without a care in the world.