April 4, 2011
Looking northward up Okanagan Lake, one might seriously question this post’s assertion that “spring is sprunging!” After all, the skies are thick with gray clouds, and it appears certain that snow is falling on the upper reaches of the mountainsides. Few folks are out and about; a single lonely soul sits gazing into the distance, on benches that will be filled with sun-worshipers not too long from now. A xeriscape park downtown likewise is empty, though bright artwork on a wall, reflective of Penticton’s active arts community, encourages pedestrians to come and sit awhile. Beaches are barren of the summer crowds, and popular waterside restaurants are only piles of chairs and tables forlornly awaiting busier, warmer days. Even a usually busy carwash sits empty and alone, as dark skies threaten spring rains.
But other signs suggest strongly that “spring is sprunging” indeed. Daffodils, crocuses, and other spring flowers have suddenly bloomed in all their brilliant, colorful beauty. Workmen and machinery are out in parks and on roadways, working hard to prepare for summer activities and traffic. Fruit trees have recently been pruned to ensure excellent summer crops, and piles of yard clippings and garbage at street curbs witness to the fact that many citizens are busily spring cleaning. Penticton and Ellis Creeks are finally clear of ice, and the water rushes downstream merrily as snowpacks on upper reaches are melting away. And an absolutely sure sign of spring: rhubard is growing!
Building and rebuilding is another sure sign of spring. The Pine Lodge, a low-income housing facility, unfortunately burned in early February, on one of the coldest days of winter, leaving 18 residents homeless. Fortunately, the Penticton community quickly worked together to find temporary housing, clothing, and other necessities, and already, the burned building has been torn down and is in the preparatory stages of rebuilding to meet this important need.
If that isn’t enough, there are bits of wry humor here and there to put some spring spirit into what otherwise might be a gloomy day. Local political commentary brightens up a storefront, as a “dummy” wears prison stripes and is accompanied by a “Penticton: a place to stay forever” sign: a tongue-in-cheek reference to current local discussion on whether we want our community to be the location of a new provincial penitentiary. On the beach front, two signs jostle for attention, a bit ironically: “Environmental Riparian Area: Keep Out” right next to “Jet Ski Rentals.” An empty bird perch just outside the picture suggests the latter use may be winning out. And finally, Santa and his reindeer are still clinging to at least one rooftop, apparently dreaming of at least one more snowfall in the 2011 winter season.