January 17, 2011
In summer, this beautiful Okanagan Lake beachfront is covered with sun-worshippers every day, the water filled with adults and children alike splashing and swimming, and zipping down the slides that are placed in the water each sunny season. Out beyond the white marker buoys (you will definitely want to click on the pictures to see the detail; click on the “back arrow” at the top left of your screen to return to the post), motor-boats, water-skiiers, canoes and kayaks, wake-boarders, and all manner of other summer water activities curve criss-crossing wakes across the water’s surface.
But on this mid-January day, with unusually clear skies and calm surface, the lake sits still, with only a flock of local over-wintering ducks and the ubiquitous sea gulls gliding slowly over the surface – at least until a rude photographer dares to creep too close, and with a sudden squawking and flapping, the whole group splashes up from the water and sails overhead in great arcs, finally descending again and landing smoothly a safe distance away.
The water itself is so clear today that every grain of sand beneath its surface along the shoreline can be seen distinctly. In fact, it is difficult to see where the water begins, it is so clear. A scattering of washed-up plant life at various levels along the shoreline replaces the summer covering of beach towels, floaties, and tanned bodies. It also reminds us that not every winter day is this placid; occasionally, winds blow up or down the lake with fury, whipping up huge waves and sometimes even taking out large trees near the shore line. But today the world is still, and the footprints of the ducks are clearly outlined in the sand at the water’s edge.
At the east end of the beach, the Penticton Peach sits closed up and deserted, and tourists looking for entertainment are more likely out of town at Apex Ski Resort, or having fun in the Casino in the hotel just beyond the Peach. At the west end of the beach, the old steamship SS Sicamous sits tall and stately, remembering, keeping watch over the beach that at one time was the southern terminous of its trips up and down the 135 kilometers of Okanagan Lake, connecting the many communities, large and small, that dotted her shorelines in earlier days.
(Take a look at this slide show of the SS Sicamous, a lively tourist and historical destination in the warm months each year).