What a beautiful autumn we’re having! Snapshots of the Penticton downtown market the first weekend of October. Around 10 am, and already about 20 C. Lovely sunny South Okanagan in British Columbia. Oh by the way–northern BC got about 18 cm of snow the same day, I’m told 🙂
This summer of 2016 is the greenest Okanagan summer I have ever seen … and I’ve lived in the Okanagan, or visited it in the summer, for most of my 61 years. The weather has been pleasant, but it hasn’t had the usual Okanagan heat. Oh yes, it did start off with a hot spell, mid to high 30s Celcius, in early May, and folks were predicting a long dry summer, drought, and probably wildfires.
But ever since then, we’ve had mostly pleasant mid-20s days, with summer showers often enough to keep the hillsides green–hillsides that are normally brown by early June. Now we are into August and they are just starting to brown. Every so often we have a few days in the low 30s, but even then, they’ve often been accompanied by thunderstorms with downpours just strong enough to prevent any major fires from lightning strikes. Most summers here in Penticton we’re under strict water regulations by early July, but this summer we’ve hardly needed to water our lawns and gardens.
What’s really amazing is the changes in the natural vegetation. Trees and bushes have sprung up. creating green oases where normally one night find thin, scraggly vegetation. The oxbows are coated in thick algae in any places–so thick that the usual ducks, turtles, and other wildlife have moved away. Even in more open water in the oxbows, there is far more floating vegetation than usual, and the bulrushes are tall and thick. The branches of berry bushes are hanging low, with heavy and very early crops such as I’ve not seen here before. The deer and bears are going to be plenty fat before winter comes.Even tree trunks have unusual growth of moss.
Gardens are amazing, too. Everywhere you look, there are amazing tall, thick-stemmed sunflowers. The fruit crops gave been thick and heavy-laden–and far earlier than usual. Despite very little watering, compared to normal summers, strawberries and vegetables are amazing. Along fence lines, flowers and crops are escaping their bounds.
What do you think? Is this just an unusual summer, or is this part of climate change? The thing is, the past few summers have been drier and drier, and the Okanagan has experienced some pretty devastating wildfires … yet now we’ve had a summer that, while pleasant, has definitely not reflected our semi-desert reputation!
Festivals are celebrations. And this past weekend’s 2016 Okanagan Valley Writers’ Festival was truly a celebration of writing in many of its forms–novels/fiction, poetry, lyrics, non-fiction, screenwriting. Writers, agents, publishers, musicians, film-makers, poets, all story-tellers no matter the format, joined together to learn, share, and celebrate their art.
Friday evening featured registration, book sales, a meet & greet with the presenters–and wonderful food! In fact, the food was fabulous all weekend, thanks to the Shatford staff and volunteers. CBC personality and author of two award-winning books, Grant Lawrence, hosted an evening variety show with readings, music, a short film and more. The event was opened by Penticton syilx elder Richard Armstrong. The show included author Adam Lewis Schroeder, author Jonas Saul, author Gerry William, international poet Daniela Elza, screenplay instructor Kat Montagu, and musician/songwriter Will Schackl.
Saturday breakfast featured Grant Lawrence speaking on “Rejection, Reflection, Reward–A Keynote on Writing Successfully.” Saturday lunch featured author Roberta Rich presenting on the topic, “Unleashing the Muse.” A Saturday afternoon panel discussion allowed attenders to submit a query letter or the first page of their story for a “Slushpile Challenge” featuring moderator Kat Montagu and panelists EDGE Publishing owner Brian Hades, author and Imajin Books publisher Cheryl Kaye Tardiff, and Seventh Avenue Literary Agency owner and agent, Robert Mackwood. The Festival bookstore was open throughout the weekend, and everyone was invited to the “Green Room” on Saturday afternoon to a book signing with the authors. Saturday evening supper featured guest speaker Gerry William from Enderby’s Splat’sin Reserve, sharing his perspectives on writing humor and sci-fi, with examples from his novels. Saturday evening’s entertainment was an Open Mic 8×8 event at which 8 Festival participants had the opportunity to do 8 minute readings from their poetry or stories.
Sunday’s breakfast speaker was Robert Mackwood, sharing “Current Trends in Book Publishing.” A panel discussion later in the morning was on “Marketing to Your Audience,” with moderator Grant Lawrence, and panelists Brian Hades, Cheryl Kaye Tardiff, novelist and non-fiction writers Denise Jaden, children’s and YA author Lorna Schultz Nicholson, and Robert Mackwood.
Throughout Saturday and Sunday there were plenty of workshops to choose from. Kat Montagu spoke on “Screenplays” and “Selling Screenplays”; Daniela Elza spoke on “Poetry: What’s in an Image?”, “Poetry Salon” and “Selling Poetry”; Brian Hades spoke on “Fantasy”; Denise Jaden spoke on “Characters” and “Outline in a Week”; editor and writing craft author Jodie Renner spoke on “Spark up Your Story: Adding Tension, Suspense & Intrigue” and “Writing a Winning Short Story”; Roberta Rich spoke on “Historical Fiction”; Will Schlackl spoke on “Song Lyrics”; Lorna Schultz Nicholson spoke on “Writing for Young Readers”; and freelancer and Okanagan Life Magazine editor, Laurie Carter, spoke on “Magazines and Newpapers” and “Selling Non-Fiction (and Fiction!).” Lorna Schultz Nicholson and Roberta Rich got together to do a presentation on “Selling Your Fiction.” Festival participants also had the opportunity to meet with individual presenters for one-on-one sessions.
On Saturday afternoon, the public was invited to “Paper Trails: An Afternoon of Poetry and Prose,” a set of author reading moderated by Penticton food writer, Roslyn Buchanan, and featuring Penticton author and poet Michelle Barker, poet Daniela Elza, and Penticton novelist Barbara Lambert.
It may have been the first time for this event in beautiful, sunny Penticton, but due to great planning by director (and author, editor, book designer, and owner of d’Elan Publishing) Dawn Renaud, the staff of the Shatford Centre and many volunteers, the Festival went off without a hitch. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go! Enjoy–and think seriously of signing up to attend next year’s Festival. You’ll be glad you did!
This is the perfect time to really check out the oxbows. The sun is shining, the air is fresh and warm, and there are beautiful spring blossoms from fruit trees that have taken root in wild ground, and fresh green grasses that provide a soft springy underfoot. But at the same time, the trees are only in bud which means there are no leaves to block your view. You can easily spot and follow the trails that animals use to get through the brush to drink water at the oxbows, so you can get right down to the edge of the ponds. And from that perfect vantage point you can spot ducks and turtles and other wildlife close up. You can also get a really good view of the plant life and silt that have slowly but surely been filling in the oxbows, and you will gain a greater understanding of why community members like The Friends of the Oxbows are working hard to stop this process and rejuvenate and restore these important wetlands.
Here is a slideshow of some snapshots taken this morning (April 5) that will give you a taste of what you can see–but getting out there is so much more inspiring. To visit these particular sections of the oxbows, drive to the foot of Warren Avenue, and park beside the oxbow there, right next to the highway. Then walk along the lane that runs parallel to the highway. Just one reminder: it is wood tick season already, so wear long pants, tucked into your socks, and/or do a thorough check for ticks when you get home!
You can also do an “oxbow” search in this blog for many pictures of the oxbows taken at various times of the year, and especially check out the post called “Penticton Oxbows Tour” for a detailed photographic and written tour of the Penticton oxbows between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake–the remains of the once-meandering river that connected these two lakes.
We’ve been having some amazingly sunny, warm weather in Penticton! In fact, yesterday, April 1, we had a record-breaking temperature of 21.5 Celcius! Lovely! And a perfect time to check out spring at the oxbows. These photos were taken on March 26th at the oxbow at the foot of Kinney Avenue, and on April 1 at the oxbow at the foot of Warren Avenue. Enjoy!
Kinney Avenue oxbow:
Warren Avenue oxbow:
The 2016 Spring Break school holiday started Friday afternoon, March 11, as students got out of school between 2:30 and 3:00 pm … and by 4:30 pm or so, there was a major windstorm, thunder and lightning, rain … and lots of hail! What a wonderful start to “spring” break! And the weather for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday wasn’t much better. But this morning, Tuesday, the sun was shining in a blue sky laced with fluffy clouds … at least for a while! And so the grandkidlings and I went out to soak up as much spring as we could! Here is a selection of the snapshots we collected 🙂
Out for a chilly walkabout this morning by the oxbows–it’s -4 C but with wind chill feels like -11. When I got back home, thought I’d take a look at some snapshots of the same location in warmer seasons, to warm myself up 🙂