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Archive for the ‘landscapes’ Category

Perfect Crispy Autumn Morning

I love autumn.  I love living in a place where we truly have 4 seasons.  And every time a new season rolls around, I find myself exclaiming, “This is my favourite season of all!”  Truly though, there is something very special about autumn.

I awoke this morning to amazing sunshine streaming through the window.  I couldn’t help but run downstairs and fling open the front door–and be stopped in my tracks by a blast of ultra-chilly air! So back inside I went, and for the first time this fall, got out my wool jacket, snuggly scarf, and hat and gloves.  Then I picked up my camera and set off for a lovely morning jaunt through my neighborhood, delighting in the crunch of dry autumn leaves and crispy frosted grass beneath my feet. I knew it was chillier than usual, but was still surprised when I stopped by the oxbow across the street, and discovered it had a thin sheet of ice over much of its surface.  Still, the warmth of the sun wrapped itself around me, and the fresh air was invigorating. As always at this time of year, the colours of the vegetation, ranging from the deep greens of coniferous branches, through the multi-hued tones of reds, oranges, yellows, brasses, and browns, splashed the world with a thousand tints from the Artist’s brush.  What glory!

I hope you will take a moment to wander my neighborhood with me through my camera’s eye in this slide show. Enjoy!

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Autumn changes

It truly is autumn today.  Early November and the snow line creeps lower down the hillsides morning by morning. Skies are gray, mostly, though the sun bravely pokes through when it gets the chance. It rains most nights, and creek beds dried up in summer are filling with small ponds in low-lying spots. Trees have shed their leaves and their branches are skeletal against the sky. Birds’ nests, hidden all summer, are suddenly clearly seen, as barren and empty as the branches that support them, the chicks grown and departed. On the ground, however, is a glorious riot of oranges, reds, yellows, and shiny browns, crunching underfoot and letting loose the damp-autumn-leaf scents that awaken happy memories of autumns past.

In the wild woods on the east end of Lion’s Park, someone has been hacking away at the underbrush. Daylight rushes into places that have been dark and tangled for a long time. Dead brush lies scattered on the ground; hopefully whoever chopped it down will have the foresight to return and remove it before summer dryness returns and a carelessly tossed spark from a cigarette, or from a transient’s campfire, starts a wildfire. Perhaps a letter to the public works department is in order.


Treks and Salvator ambulado

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES“Salavtor ambulado” (It is solved by walking)–St. Augustine.

Coming up on my 60th birthday in a couple months, and thinking about friends who have celebrated their 60th (or 65th) by heading out on a long trek/pilgrimage. I was feeling sad that I can’t do that just now … but listening to CBC radio early this morning, a piece from Australia about World Labyrinth Day and the new labyrinth in Centennial Park in Sydney …

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhich led my fingers walking through some googled articles on “salvator ambulado” … and I realized that I can “trek” every day, even if only for short periods at a time. After all, I live in a perfect spot … beautiful community parks, oxbows, community food forest, wild meadow, walking trail along the river channel, all within view and within a 5 minute walk of my house … and Okanagan and Skaha Lakes within 20 minute walks north and south …

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTime to stop dreaming of (or at least focusing on) ocean cabins and beach trails, and stepping out into what is right in my own backyard (including my sweet tiny backyard full of raised garden beds and a bistro set and comfy lawn chairs!). Combine that with my art supplies, camera, and beautiful new notebook … I AM going to trek … and solve … by walking, and sitting down and writing and drawing …

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe articles I’ve been reading promise walking will help me move, get out of my box, let go, go with the flow of my imaginings, be shaken from my complacency and pride, take creative turns, live without regrets, listen, connect, feel more centered, bring clarity and peace and well-being, become reorganized and refreshed and revitalized, engage in new responses and perspectives, literally be moved forward, gain emotional and physical well-being …

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESrestore resilience and focus, add mindfulness to life, stop anxiety-producing mental patterns and allow my body chemistry to return to health with stimulated circulation of nutrients, gain improved energy and mood and immune functions, push stress and tension from my mind, restore alertness, prepare for worrisome appointments or meetings, increase resourcefulness of body and brain, reduce illness and fatigue, feel better and perform better …

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESreconnect with the things that are truly important in my life (spirituality, family and friends, health, writing and other creative pursuits, life-long learning and sharing), help tap into my creativity and wisdom and capacity for wonder, connect with what I really value, relax and clear my mind of jumbled and stressful thoughts, really attend to the beauty of the world around me, think deeply and efficiently, be lifted out of depression …

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESbuild relationships and discover solutions and discuss life’s questions while walking with companions, become more generous and community oriented, improve my community and society by improving my own life since we are all inter-connected, force my brain to process my environment and engage it more fully, improve my cognitive performance (and stave off the horror I feel about the possibility of dementia down the road), become fitter, reconnect to my true self, personally affect climate change and other environmental factors by walking instead of driving (and cut down on personal financial costs at the same time!), hug some trees, lay on the grass and soak up the sun…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn one of the articles I googled, Arianna Huffington quoted a poem and then commented:

When you set out on the voyage to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
But over the years I came to realize that a journey — one that can also be full of adventure and knowledge — doesn’t have to involve planes and cars and passports. The benefits of a journey are always available simply by walking.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMaybe someday I’ll take a long trek like my friend Yasmin John-Thorpe did for her 60th when she  trekked the Camino or as my friend Robin Edgar-Haworth is doing right now as he treks across Canada to Ottawa seeking to Right the Wrong

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBut right now, I can get up from my easy chair, put down my laptop, put on my walking shoes, put my backpack of journal and camera and sketchbook over my shoulder, and step out the door, wander through my little garden, and out into my neighborhood …


Hike North of Skaha Bluffs

Another wonderful hike with my friend Cabrini, this one on November 26, on the hillside at Penticton’s south end (just north of the famous Skaha Bluffs).  Along the trails (which are mostly narrow “deer trails” in a very natural environments), you’ll find little rock towers left by previous hikers, to mark the way forward). The views of Penticton and Skaha Lake beach are spectacular–and on this late November afternoon, a brisk wind was blowing, and hardy sailboarders were getting lots of height above the water!

Twin Lakes November Afternoon Drive

Not far from Penticton is the “Twin Lakes” area, which includes the site of the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory. These South Okanagan back-roads are the perfect place for a pleasant afternoon drive from Penticton.  These photos were taken November 16. Enjoy!

Autumn Colours

Here are autumn colours in Penticton–taken in October, it’s true, but surely enjoyable to view on this gray, cold, late December day!



Summerland Experimental Station Ornamental Gardens

When I was growing up, a favourite family activity — extended family including grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, and lots of friends — was to go to the Summerland Experimental Station (or “The Farm” as the older folks called it) for a big group picnic. The children would have a wonderful time running down the many paths, playing hide and seek among the bushes and under the huge weeping willow trees with branches hanging to the ground, and of course rolling over and over and over down the long, long sloping lawn. The young adults would meander among the gardens, while the oldest folks would sit under the shade of the beautiful trees and admire the gardens. Then we’d all gather together around the many picnic tables and have great picnic lunches.

As I was a “July baby” we also celebrated many of my birthdays at the Station, along with my cousin Kathy, whose birthday was one week before mine. And our family had a special connection to “The Farm” as my grandfather, John Mott, had worked as a gardener there, and helped develop some rose varieties that later became widely known.  Also, my mom often told us of how, when she was young, they would walk to the Station from Summerland, following the railway track, and walk across the railway trestle — a very long trek from their home down on Sully Road across from the old Summerland Hospital.

The Summerland Experimental Station was also a great place for groups of people to gather for events like Sunday School picnics, and for school classes to go for field trips.  I remember, in grade 7 (spring 1968) our adventurous young teacher, Mr. Seymour, taking us on our very first school field trip all the way from Rutland to the Summerland Experimental Station (now known as the Pacific Agri-Food Research Center) and then on to the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory south of Penticton. At the Station, we all got to eat apples grown there — new varieties not yet commercially available — and we got to see the “cow with a glass stomach.”  All very exciting!

Today, the beautiful garden and lawn sections of the Experimental Station are kept up by a group of enthusiastic volunteers, and are known as the Summerland Ornamental Gardens. They are open to the public most days, and are free to visit, though donations to their upkeep are of course welcomed — and most worth it.  My sister and I went up to the Station the other day and enjoyed the combination of xeriscape gardens and traditional gardens, and the many memories from our childhood which they brought back.  Please enjoy the following slide show, which features the gardens today, and snapshots from as far back as sixty or more years ago!

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