The Okanagan is so teeming with writers and artists, it’s impossible to review all of the various local books that come across my desk. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favourites from this year: The Flicker Tree: Okanagan poems by Kelowna author Nancy Holmes.
This is a book of accessible, delicate and insightful poems, which are easy to digest in just one sitting, but will linger much longer. Perhaps this book holds a special place in my heart because I read it at a time when I needed to be reminded that some still care about the Okanagan landscape.
I read The Flicker Tree cover to cover on an overnight stay at a vinyl-off-gassing monster home recently plunked onto ploughed up grassland. Where better to read a poem entitled Suburban Summer Ode with its delightful descriptions of driveways overflowing with cars, boats and RVs, of the sounds of crickets mixed with the roar of car engines, and of hedges carefully built to separate us from the forest? Those are our neighbourhoods, and these are our poems. But aside from a gentle prodding to examine our lifestyles, Holmes reminds us to delight in our local scenery: the sound of wind rattling leaves that refuse to fall from winter pear trees, and the sight of swans on Okanagan Lake borrowing a bay for a week or two every January. She writes of small beauty: arrow-leaf balsamroot, sagebrush, prickly pear cactus, swallowtail butterflies and blue bunch wheat grass — that if we care to look, can be ours too.
For readers on your Christmas list with more specific interests, these are a few suggestions that have come my way:
For the car buff: Chris Garrish has penned a history of BC through the lens of the province’s licence plates called Tales from the Back Bumper. The book was recently launched in conjunction with an exhibit at the Penticton Museum.
For history/photography buffs: Summerland author Sherril Foster has penned A Steady Lens: The True Story of Pioneer Photographer Mary Spencer.
For art lovers: Author Julie Fowler has written the story of two artists and their friendship with Group of Seven painters: The Grand Dames of the Cariboo.
For fantasy lovers: mother and son duo Paula Baker and Aidan Davies have released the first in a series called The Hawks: Rebels of Halklyen.
For teachers and locals who loved high school days: Dave Snyder is launching his new book just in time for Christmas: Centennial Pen Hi: A chronicle of a high school.
Heather Allen is a writer and reader living in Penticton.