Well, it’s still hot out here in the Okanagan. Still sunny and bright. But darkness hits somewhere around 8 pm already, my daughter has completed her first week of grade eleven, and today I bought two new cozy sweaters. Which means, summer is officially done for another year.
As well, after a couple of weird weeks of job transition, I am back to work tomorrow.
A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to move on from the job I had in an art gallery. I really loved the job for a long time, and so it wasn’t an easy choice to make. It was also a pretty easy choice to make. As in, one day, I got angry, went home and typed up a resume, took it into a job, was hired on the spot, and gave notice the next day.
Well, okay, it was a little bit more complicated than that. There had been enough signs that it was time for a change in my life that I’d already put some things into motion. I’d already put out some feeler on-line resumes with companies I never really expected to hear from. And then I did. And, people kept offering me jobs. Over the course of two weeks, I was fortunate enough to be offered six different positions with six different companies. I stuck with the first one — the hired-on-the-spot job. (I like the boss, and it turns out she is related to a writer friend of mine.) And today I accepted a second position — with London Drugs.
I’m excited about this new job — start training in a week — but way back when I gave notice, I timed it out so that I could have a week off before starting new things. I finished off my two plus weeks notice at the gallery, drove out to Salmon Arm the next morning to pick my daughter up from the summer camp where she worked all August, and promptly caught my son’s summer flu. This bug was a nasty, persistent little beastie, and I pretty much spent my week hacking my lungs out to the point where I completely lost my voice yet somehow managed not to lose any weight. What the heck?
And so it has only been the last few days where I have felt reasonably healthy again. Tomorrow I am back at work. Which meant if I was going to say goodbye to summer with one last road trip, today was the day.
I chose Enderby for my destination. This summer, with my daughter working in Salmon Arm, I drove through Enderby three times, noting that gas prices fell with each successive trip. Nice! I figured it was worth the trek out there to see if prices had stayed low, and they had — 124.9, so much better than the 133.9 here at home. I gassed ‘er up from almost empty for just slightly more than it costs to fill half the tank here at home.
When I pulled up to the pump, I noticed the young woman cleaning the towel rack nearest me. She held a spray bottle and a rag, and was completely freaking out over the spiders inside the towel dispenser. When she called a co-worker over to help her then smiled at me, I laughed.
“You remind me of my daughter,” I said, “She hates spiders too. Mind you, you’re completely blowing all my pre-conceived ideas about tough country people.”
She laughed and owned it. “But, spiders!” Then she thanked the young guy as he first sprayed then stomped the — I will freely admit — massive black spider.
When in Enderby, I always go to a particular gas station, and the reason for my choice is obvious — donuts. It was Deanna who introduced us. “These are the best donuts anywhere,” she informed me one summer, and she’s not wrong. Southerland’s Bakery is located inside GTI Petroleum gas station, and it’s a must-do when in Enderby. Today I got the Skor éclair for myself and the mint Aero éclair to take home to Sheena. The woman helping me explained that the difference with their donuts is that they are baked fresh.
“I can’t believe other people use frozen donuts,” she said.
Me either. Well, I can believe they use them, I just don’t know why anyone would buy them. Not when Southerland’s donuts are available instead.
After Southerland’s, I headed for the local beach. Years ago, I dated a man who lived in Enderby. We used to go to rural locations and take photos together. One of my vivid memories is of the many snakes which were sunbathing on the cement walking path by the Enderby River. Yuck. I mean, there were a lot of snakes. Today, instead, I found myself confronted with a sign reading Be Bear Aware.
Bear Aware? How does that help? So, now, as I walk down this path thinking about snakes I am aware that it could be worse, it could be bears?
As much as I like Enderby, I’ve never forgotten the snakes. Back in those days, I was contemplating getting a tattoo. I wanted to get something that represented my personality, in the sense that I am a country girl at heart. Except, I am also a water baby by nature. So, when I thought tattoo, I debated something equine versus something aquatic. Which more truly and fully represented me? I never did decide.
The debate can also be articulated by the top two alternate towns where I might someday wish to live — Peachland, on the waterfront of Okanagan Lake, or Enderby, beside the river and in the shadow of the cliffs, and framed by corn fields on every side. In Enderby, I think as I walk along the shores of the river snapping photographs of scenery which lowers the heart rate with its impressive wholistic beauty, I’d have to be aware of the wildlife. In Peachland, where the beauty is equally impressive but, with boats and forest fires, is not remotely serene, I’d have to accept the population-swelling influx of vacationers. Tourists.
I know you can’t see me from where you are, but I have just shuddered over here. It’s a toss up. Good thing I already live in one of the most beautiful places around.
Today after leaving the beach, I get the brilliant idea to photograph cornfields with the Enderby Cliffs as a backdrop. I’ve wanted to do this every trip I’ve made out here this summer. On the highway, though, there’s no great place to pull over and get to my happy place behind the shutter. Today I decide to find a back road with cornfield access. By lucky coincidence, I also discover Waterside Vineyard & Winery.
I’m kind of on rations financially until regular paychecks recommence, so I don’t go inside or buy anything. I do take some gorgeous pictures and decide I will come back again another day. And then I decide to head home where last night’s leftovers await me (wrong — the child got there first). First, though, I stop and take a quick picture of Starlight Drive-In.
On their website, Starlight Drive-In claims to have the biggest screen in North America. I think they are also one of the last Drive-Ins in British Columbia. At least, that I know of. And sure, I can now go to a theatre in Kelowna with reclining leather seats and enough leg room that I don’t care about aisle seats, but how does that compare to sitting outside and feeding the local mosquito population while listening to poor-quality, car-battery-killing sound underneath the stars? No comparrison. Also, the last time I was at the Drive-In, I watched people get engaged on the big screen. How cool is that?
The first time I ever went to Starlight Drive-In was when I was myself a teenager working at the same Salmon Arm summer camp where my daughter just spent her summer. That year, my buddy Calvin and I hit up the Drive-In together to watch a Clint Eastwood flick, Dead Pool. Today when I pulled off the road to snap the picture of the Drive-In, it was 4:47 pm. There were already three cars in line for the double horror-flick feature. Come to think of it, a drive-in would be a pretty perfect place to watch a horror flick. But if you are going to try out Starlight, be prepared to arrive in advance.
I pull back onto the highway after only a one car delay. As always, when I drive home from Enderby I want to stop and photograph the fields stretching before me. Corn and hay and right now something plowed up and brown with fresh dirt alternate. The word that always comes to mind here is nestled. As in, the homes and barns are nestled in the V’s made by the hills and the fields. I also always wonder just where Enderby’s fields become Armstrong’s fields. I don’t know the answer, don’t need to know the answer, but once you get past Armstrong, everything opens up. The Okanagan Valley spreads out for you in all its varied shades of greens and blues and golds. Everything in side me lets out that big exhale of breath, and gratitude rings inside my ears.
I’ve been to Enderby four times this summer. I haven’t made it to Peachland once. In the Peachland / Enderby debate, it’s quite possible Enderby is currently ahead. Regardless, what I know, as I head back home to a messy lawn and fast-growing children and pets who love me pretty much unconditionally, is that I am in love with this amazing place where I live. The Okanagan of Beautiful British Columbia. So good to call you my home.