August 07 – 08, 2011
After a very, very, very long cool spring which stretched half-way through Penticton’s normal summer season, summer has truly arrived, with lots of blue, sunny skies and thermometers registering in the low 30s C on a consistent basis.
And of course that means that the unusually quiet lonely beaches have suddenly become the center of Penticton summer fun. The waterfowl may be a little surprised by the sudden influx of humans, but it certainly hasn’t scared them off. Ducks and seagulls mingle cheerfully with tourists and locals, sailing overhead as the human folks sail on the waves, swimming, sailboarding, waterskiing, sliding down the always popular slides to splash into the water, and floating on all manner of air-filled devices. Young and old demonstrated their architectural skills, building great sand-castle creations together.
At the shoreline, families play together in the sand and waves. One of the great things about Penticton’s beaches is the family focus, with members of all ages from newborns to honored great-grandparents almost all sharing in the happiness and community together. Almost all.
On the day these snapshots were taken, one young family came to the beach. The parents, unfortunately, ensconced themselves on towels on the sand, and ordered the children to go play in the water while the parents laid back, closed their eyes, and soaked up the sun. The eldest child, perhaps 8 or 9 years old, was placed in charge of the youngest of perhaps a year in age. She was told to stand at the foot of the slide, chest-deep in the water, to catch the baby as he came down. As the little one flew off the end of the slide, his little feet stretched out in front of him bowled over his young sister, and both went under the water. One of the parents, observing this incident from their comfortable spot on the sand, started hollering at the little girl to take better care of the baby. Both children were spluttering and choking on the water, and thrashing about trying to get safely to shore, but other than shouting at them angrily, the parents did not move to help.
Along came an older man, obviously a grandfather, already playing with his own children and grandchildren in the water and on the slide. He gently scooped up the two little folks, brought them to the edge of the water, and sat down with them in the shallow shore waters. Quickly the other siblings joined their brother and sister, and his own grandchildren ran over too. In moments, the whole group was laughing and playing safely together with this grandpa. He played with them all for a good half hour, and then it was time to take his own family home. The parents of the little ones whom he had rescued were, sadly, still laying stretched out in the sun ignoring their children. As this grandpa got up to leave, the little ones he had just adopted stretched out their arms to him and said, “Grandpa, do you really have to go? Can’t you stay and play with us longer?” He replied that he really did have to go, but that he hoped he’d see them again another day. As he left the beach with his own children and grandchildren, he stopped to tell the parents they’d need to watch their children now. They just glared at him.
Fortunately, such parents are an exception on Penticton’s beaches. Even more fortunately, caring community members like the grandfather are not an exception. What a great place we have for families to vacation or live.