Category Archives: Commentary

Summer Fun

I love these sculptures on the east shore of Lake Okanagan.

The city of Penticton has lovely beaches that are very child-friendly and geared to lots of kid-fun. That sentiment is reflected in this appealing and charming set of sculptures.

Great summer fun.

In the northern hemisphere, summer is drawing to a close. British Columbia has been swept by hundreds of fires and many of them are still burning; the first two photos show some smoke haze in the distance. For the fourth year in a row, it was the hottest summer on record. I know that Europe sweltered and that many other forests around the world are burning.

Did you experience unusual weather during the summer?

A Touch of the Grape

The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia has the perfect environment for growing many types of wine grapes.

The Okanagan is famous for its pinot gris grapes (Hillside Winery). They produce a dry white that goes with many meals.

It’s very mild and damp in the winter and very hot and dry in the summer. Those conditions produce the right combinations of sugars and flavour profiles for many types of wines, especially “Bordeaux- style blends” (named after the region of France from where they originate), for which the Okanagan is also famous. In England, these blends used to be referred to as “claret.” Here they are often referred to as “meritage.”

Meritage is produced by blending certain types of grapes such as merlot, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon and others.

One thing many people don’t realise about these grapes is that sometimes, a red grape produces a white wine.

Pinot noir grapes at Tinhorn Creek winery.

In fact, sparkling wines (in France, it’s known as champagne) usually result from red grapes.

The Okanagan also produces fantastic ice wine. This is a dessert wine that results when grapes are touched by a slight frost. Ice wine is terrific with cheese – a perfect combination of sweet and salty.

Often, I enjoy a good Bordeaux-style blend or meritage.

A lovely blend from Osoyoos Larose Winery.

With a steak or other hearty meal it’s heavenly.

Many people can be intimidated by wine and wine jargon. Try not to let that stop you, because finding a wine you like is one of life’s wonderful little things – and in moderation, it’s also good for you.

Do you like to enjoy a glass of wine?

Night Garden with Moon

My wonderful friend C has an equally wonderful yard. It took her many years to bring it around.

She has many beautiful, mature trees, a small pond, and a vegetable patch.

Loads of flowers, ornamental plants and a gurgling stream complete this garden oasis.

It is truly stunning but also relaxing. My friend has built a remarkably calming haven in the middle of a dense and busy neighbourhood.

On a recent night, we sat on her large comfortable deck, ate good food, listened to sleepily twittering birds, and watched the sun go down and the bats flit in search of dinner. We talked and spent time together.

Thank you, C.

My British Columbia Home

Here’s a little tour of my home in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. When I am not working in the Northwest Territories, I am usually here.

Okanagan Lake is a very deep, very long north to south (135 km) body of fresh water with very different climates from one end to the other.

Even within short distances, there are extremes. Enormous sage bushes crouch in the dry soil in one spot, and a few meters away …

… there’s a vibrantly green apricot tree.

And then there are the grape vines. Many, many varietals. Some of these grapes will become very expensive bottles of wine while others are much more lowly, but pleasant and worthwhile all the same.

Part of this valley is classified as desert while other parts further to the north are made up of deciduous and coniferous forest.

A vineyard on the Naramata Bench.

Right now it is very hot (about 36°C) and dry and while the wine grapes might really like that, there have been some significant lightening-triggered fires as well. A few rain showers would be very helpful.

What are the defining characteristics of your part of the world?

Prairie Skies

We recently drove across Alberta’s northern prairies during a rain storm.

We passed beautiful canola fields.

And then we left the storm behind as we continued our drive through the Rocky Mountains.

The western provinces are very different from each other but very beautiful.

We are home now in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

How is your July?