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Posts tagged ‘summer’

Green Okanagan Summer

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!

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2012 BC Youth Writers Camp

July 2-7 2012

Another very successful BC Youth Writers Camp was help July 2 to 7, 2012, at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College.  Sixty-eight youth between the ages of 9 and 18, both former campers, and new ones as well, attended the camp, learning to hone their writing skills, and learning about editing, illustrating, publishing, and more.

This year’s keynote speaker was 23 year old poet Amanda Lewis of Penticton, who, despite physical disabilities, is an active and enthusiastic poet and speaker.  The students were so impressed by Amanda’s presentation and her passion for writing.  They have taken home with them Amanda’s personal credo: “The impossible just takes a little longer,” and personally autographed copies of her book “One,” which were provided courtesy of Raise a Reader.

Each morning, the students attended lectures related to writing.  Presenter Karen Autio of Kelowna (www.karenautio.com) is an author of historical novels for young readers.  Karen shared with the students how to research and unlock history.

Presenter C.A. Lang, also of Kelowna, has written everything from historical fiction to experimental novels.  Lang presented a workshop on science fiction and fantasy worldbuilding, covering logic, social structure, religion, technology and magic.

Presenter Lorna Schultz Nicholson (www.lornaschultznicholson.com) is a full-time writer who divides her time between Calgary and Penticton.  She has published over 20 childrens, youth, and sports books. Lorna presented a workshop, “Page Turning Fiction!” in which she shared how to use breathtaking description, page turning plots, setting, gripping conflict, and real life dialogue to make a good story great.

Presenter Endrene Shepherd (facebook.com/endreneshepherd), of Penticton, has been writing, painting and drawing her entire life.  She has completed one book so far.  Endrene’s workshop, “Ready, Set, Illustrate!” gave participants a chance to view some famous illustrations from well-known children’s literature, and learn the “whys” and “hows” of selecting scenes from their stories for illustration.  She also led the students in doing illustrations for their own works.

Presenter Mary Ann Thompson is a freelance editor. Mary Ann’s workshop had the students get out the blue pencils and play with story.  Through games and editing exercises, they learned to transform boring beginnings, shake out muddled middles, and create thrilling endings.  Mary Ann also talked about what an editor does and the steps that go into publishing a book.

In the afternoons, students were involved in a variety of activities.  These included a book signing event for the “Gems of British Columbia,” in which each young author signed their own works in each published copy of the anthology; a “cowboy poetry” event led by PWAP poets Alan Longworth and Herb Moore, in which each student completed a “cowboy poem” of their own; an open mic young writers showcase talent event (plays, music, readings, and more), emceed by past camper Taylor Attril; a calligraphy event taught by calligrapher Dave Cursons; and a book store event at which the students had the opportunity to purchase books written by the camp presenters.

As always, the camp students sent in samples of their story writing and poetry with their registrations, and their work was published in the annual “Gems of British Columbia” anthology.  It is a great encouragement to these young writers to see their written works in print.

Many thanks to camp coordinator Yasmin John-Thorpe, and her volunteer helpers – PWAP members who critiqued the anthology entries, community members who prepared and served snacks and lunches for the campers, registration day helpers, the Rotary Club who provided the end-of-camp barbeque, and more.  Special thanks also to the generous sponsors, without whose support this camp could not take place.

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Summer’s Finally Here!

7 July 2012

Summer has finally arrived in the sunny South Okanagan.  The thermometer is pushing well past 30 C every day, and the Penticton Saturday Downtown Market has become so popular that it now fills four full blocks!  Check it out!

Lots to do with the grandkids

August 18, 2011

In Penticton, there really is lots to do with the grandkids!  My 10-year-old grandson came out to visit from Alberta for a few days, and we had such a great time.

The first day, we mini-golfed, swam, and played in two parks.  The only thing that “cost” was the mini-golf, and hubby won a free pass which he passed on to our grandson.  A couple of days later, the little guy and his granny on his dad’s side used the free pass to go mini-golfing – and won another free pass.  So it turns out that one of the great things about activities with the grandkids in Penticton is that the few things that “cost” are actually almost free too 🙂

There’s another great thing about Penticton activities with the grandkids – you can park the car (or even just walk from home) and find a wide variety of activities all within a 10 to 15 minute walking distance of each other.  We started at Loco Landing where we played mini-golf, fed the ducks and goldfish, and Chinnie (grandpa) and the little guy had a wonderful time shooting cannonballs.  The young ‘un made some new friends, too.

Then a short walk to Okanagan Beach, for fun in the waves, sliding into the water with huge splashes, making sand castles, watching the parasailers and sail-boarders and waterskiiers – and backpack snacks on the sand.  And making new friends.

Across the street to Lakawanna Park for fun in the water park, and more excitement on the huge adventure playground.  And of course, more new friends.

Then a short two or three blocks on to the adventure playground at Queen’s Elementary School, watching activities of children taking part in the Penticton Rec summer day camp program, meeting still more new friends, and finally a picnic lunch while perched high atop the monkey bars!

Then back to the  car, parked in the lovely shady free parking lot behind Lakawanna Park – cool even on a warm sunny South Okanagan summer day!

Summer fun at Okanagan Beach

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.

Peach Fest Aboriginal Village

August 6, 2011

One of the wonderful free features of Penticton’s annual city festival, “Peachfest,” is the Aboriginal Cultural Village at Gyro Park.  Aboriginal artists, dancers, drummers and singers, and other musicians come from across Canada to showcase their talents and culture.  Penticton’s Indian Band, the Sylix Nation, hosts this great two-day event featuring a Pow Wow, teepees, traditional foods, crafts, cultural displays, and family and children’s’ contests and activities.

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and it is certainly true of this event.  So onto a sampling of photos from 2011’s Aboriginal Cultural Village (be sure to click on the photos to see them in full size) :

Penticton beaches

22 July 2011

Penticton is famous for its beaches at either end of the city:  Okanagan Lake beach to the north, and Skaha Lake beach to the south.  While the weather has been a bit unusual this year, with more clouds and summer showers than usual, we have still had pretty wonderful weather, especially considering the extreme weather conditions so many other places have suffered.

While the beaches this summer aren’t as crowded as they usually are, and while the lake waters are cooler than normal for this time of year, the sandy shores are still a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

As always, our lake waters are beautifully clear.  Snapshots of sand or pebbles in the water look as if there is no water covering them!

Our beachside walks attract families, singles, and of course romantic couples, enjoying the warmth and beautiful views.  Ducks and geese also enjoy our shoreline, and have little fear of humans – which some folks enjoy, like the little gal and the gentleman walking among a feathered flock in these pictures, while of course some other folks disapprove of the “mess” the migrating flocks leave to remind us of their visit.  The water birds also enjoy a float along the shoreline and find a good stock of their favorite snacks in the waters.

The famous statues of “Children romping” has been moved from its former location by the secluded Japanese gardens to a more public spot on the shoreline, where these brass children mingle with their lively human counterparts.  It is hoped that this new location will also be less inviting to unfortunate vandalism.

While less folks than usual have been braving the waters this summer, many still spread their pale bodies under the summer skies, enjoying the warmth and hoping for a tan. A good book or simply a pleasant nap add to the enjoyment.  And although hookah bars have not come to Penticton yet, some folks have decided to enjoy their own version while sitting on benches enjoying the beach view.  It seems that the many warnings of skin damage just cannot compete with the draw of sand and sun.  Here’s hoping the sun worshipers have spread lots of sunblock on themselves.

Children and young adults are still likely to brave the waters for a quick dip despite the chilliness of the lake this year, and of course water activities like floating devices, waterskiing, parasailing, water slides, and sandcastle building overcome the hesitation of many.  On the other hand, rentals of kayaks and other watercraft are down this year, much to the sorrow of the entrepreneurial sorts who hope to make a profit off the sun worshippers.

Penticton recreation department has a very popular summer day-camp program, and it appears that the numbers of children enthusiastically taking part this year are probably as numerous as usual.  If you are hungry, there are always vendors ready to fill your empty tummy, including at Okanagan beach’s famous “peach” (which was once rolled down the beach to the water by a group of overly enthusiastic young folk, errr rioters).  On the other hand, it is also quite common to find very young entrepreneurs at their family gate selling lemonade and fresh cherries or other fresh-picked fruit from the trees in their yards.

For those folks who have had enough of the beach, there are always other free activities nearby – how about a game of bocce in the park, or a multi-person bike ride along city streets, or a game of catch with a friend, or perusing the newspaper on a quiet park bench, or even a nap in the mall after a pleasant game of chess? Something for everyone!

Summer is only half over, so if you haven’t made it to sunny Penticton yet this summer, come on!