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.
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.
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?
I am away in the far north at the moment: 68° north latitude, to be exact, in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.
We are in between the national days of Canada and the United States, so, I hope all you Canucks had a fabulous Canada Day, 🇨🇦 and to our great American cousins, I hope you have a brilliant July Fourth 🇺🇸.
It has been a rather dodgy spring and summer also has had an interesting start. Well, not really. Kind of alternating. A couple of days of cold rain followed by a couple of days of sweltering humidity. Really unattractive.
There have been wild roses.
And interesting clouds.
And panting northern hot dogs.
And lots of green growing.
And more wild roses.
But my, it’s been rainy and humid and cold.
Not the best spring/summer, but lots to appreciate.
Trump has insulted our prime minister. Badly. He called PM Trudeau “weak,” “meek and mild” and “dishonest.” One of Trump’s advisers even went so far as to proclaim that there is a “special place in hell” for Trudeau.
Now, no matter what your political stripe, that kind of unregulated and moronic loudmouthery is something that will unite this country faster than you can say Jacques Robinson. That’s because, love him or hate him, Trudeau is ours. In other words, we can criticise him, but American political hypocrites who project their personality issues onto others can’t. That’s not allowed.
And then to tell us that we’ll pay??? Gall darnit, now you’ve really done it.
A riled Canadian is not a pretty sight. And although that whole “polite and nice” bit is mostly a stereotype, angry and pissed is not our natural setpoint either.
Just wait and see.
So, right now there’s a movement to boycott all American products and services.
Or, buy anyone else’s products but theirs.
I was thinking about this. We could do it. It would require some pretzelling, but we could.
And we’d probably be healthier and smarter.
Just think, no more Coke, Twinkies, or Doritos.
No more desperate housewives from? Hmmm. Not sure what city they’re from. But they’re desperate, they’re from the States, and watching them will make you want to lick your own eyeballs.
No more smarmy bachelors and bachelorettes who look like they have been built from a kit.
No more cross-border hockey.
Well, if all the Canadians left, many of the teams would collapse. But at least the season would be over before May. May hockey is just wrong.
No more internet.
Actually, we can calm down about that one. It was the result of a rather large, world-wide collaboration that was constructed, layer by layer, on the work and ideas of many, including Nicola Tesla. At various stages, American interests put money into it, but so did a number of other nationalities. However, what we think of as today’s internet was invented by a British guy named Tim Berners-Lee.
There. It’s okay. The internet is not “owned” by the US.
So yes. We could probably live without US products.
But the problem is, I don’t think we want to and that sentiment is about an awful lot more than just stuff.
We’re pissed because a good friend has done the equivalent of announce to the world that one of us farted a big one during dinner and that the bed we offered had bugs. Except these would be total lies. Actually, it was Donnie who peed in the soup – figuratively, that is.
We’re pissed because our veterans have been slighted.
We’re pissed because we’ve been deemed a security risk over the War of 1812.
Really??? Donnie, you baby brain, are you seriously serious?
We want things to go back to how they were. Yes, there was the occasional squabble, but there was never anything serious.
We got along, visited each other, intermarried, tried each other’s food and culture and books and watched each other’s sports, and yes, ridiculous tv shows.
For the most part, we’ve always been pretty chummy.
But now, everyone feels awkward and embarrassed. People are taking it upon themselves to apologise for a leader they probably never voted for and of whom they are ashamed.
A pretty great relationship has become an uncomfortable side hug.
But for as pissed as Canadians might be at the moment, please remember that we’re pissed at Trump and his entourage of peckerwoods. We’re not pissed at you.
We know that the majority of Americans didn’t vote for him. We know that many of those who did felt that they were doing the right thing.
I just hope that underneath the orange glow that’s emanating from your direction, we’re really still friends, and will continue to be friends, long after the Trumpian morass has been consigned to the past.
Is it being in the same place with your significant other?
Or is it a state of mind?
Do you have to leave it in order to recognise it? To know that it’s home and it’s where you belong?
I left “home” many years ago. So many places have now been “home” that I don’t really think of it any more as a place.
You can’t go home again. That is the title of a novel by Thomas Wolfe. In it, the idea of home is explored, but there are no definitive answers.
Once you leave home, does home become a construct? Is it an illusion? A sentiment? If what you experienced as home still exists, is it the same? Or was it ever what you thought it was?
I think of home as a place in my head. I don’t always recognise it, but I know it when I feel it. The land where I now spend my working life is a type of home, but I also know that it isn’t home.
Some people can’t wait to get back home. They will only leave it temporarily, if they do at all.
I couldn’t wait to leave home. I wanted nothing to do with it and got as far away from it as I could, both physically and emotionally. I had to find my own concept of home, and did so by exploring the homes of many others. I travelled a lot, both throughout Canada and the world.
And what I found was that the idea of home held a great number of commonalities across ethnicities, countries, religions and regions. It was often about a familiar group of people doing familiar things in an environment that, for the most part, held few surprises, even if there was a war going on. In fact, the notion of emphasising their familiarities was even more pronounced if there WAS a war going on.
So, maybe home is about expectations. We expect certain people to be doing certain things in certain ways in a certain environment. When all about us moves and changes, this idea of home provides a great deal of – well – certainty.
I once took a course that taught that expectations are inherently disappointing. That if you expect something, and then don’t get it as so often happens, you are causing a lot of trouble for yourself.
Maybe that’s why you can’t go home again. Expectations are never what they are in your head.
Now it’s your turn. What are your thoughts about home?
We recently encountered the Bruin triplets. As a precaution, we photographed them through our windshield – the photo quality suffered because the window was dirty and there’s also a lot of visible glare. The bears are coming into a lot of contact with humans however, and we think it’s best not to open windows or to stop and get out. The more minimal we can be, the better, because in the end, it’s the bears that pay the price for human thoughtlessness.
The bears? Well, they’re just being bears.
One of the bears was particularly explorative while the other two stayed close to mummy. They all appeared to be very healthy and well fed.
These bears were born during the winter and will stay with their mum for about the next 12-14 months until they become juveniles, at which time they will start their independent lives. Their mum will go on to find another mate and to give birth again.
But as with all young ones, right now they are completely adorable. 🙂