Okanagan offers a warm welcome
There is a saying that change always comes bearing gifts. Since my partner and I moved here from the coast, I’ve been unwrapping a bit of an education about the Okanagan.
I have learned I don’t really have summer clothes. Summer only lasts about two weeks in Metro Vancouver — give or take an hour or two — so there was no sense in breaking the bank investing in a wardrobe consisting of breathable, airy textiles that would keep someone cool as the temperatures rose.
But here, I have found myself sweating buckets everywhere I go, cursing my propensity to buy dark-coloured fabrics. Not to mention a fondness for denim.
I am finding this place rather sweet as well. There’s an awful lot of fruit here — everywhere I look there’s bushels and crates piled up.
For a city dweller who used to ogle Okanagan peaches at the farmers market, this is a pretty awesome development. The fact that we have already stumbled upon “a guy” who is willing to keep us in farm-fresh fruit for practically nothing is nirvana in my world.
But I’m also learning there’s a catch.
Fruit doesn’t last forever. The fridge is currently chock-a-block full of watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, apples, strawberries and oranges. I’m talking bags of the stuff.
I’ve been getting my Canada Food Guide allotment of fruit per day, and then some. We joke about having cantaloupe sandwiches stuffed with apple slices. The joke may be on us, though, as the clock ticks down on best-before dates.
So now I’m scouring the Internet for tried-and-true recipes for baked goods that will burn through our pile of produce. Peach crumb bars. Apple pie. Strawberry shortcake. Heaven help me if I suddenly develop diabetes.
Maybe next summer I’ll consider making some preserves. But I didn’t want to set up a full-blown cannery as we stay with friends who have generously opened up their home until we can get settled. Paying them back with a lifetime supply of jam probably wasn’t their first pick for a thank-you present.
But if all I have to complain about is sunny days and an over-abundance of fruit, then on balance, our new life here is looking up. We’re really happy about being closer to family, and taking things down a notch from the bustle of the city.
I am really looking forward to this year of firsts while exploring the South Okanagan. I have my first Ironman spectator adventures under my belt, and am already plotting which wineries to head out to next. (For the record, you will never hear any complaints from me about the copious amount of wine in the area. Those who know me best recognize it’s no coincidence that I relocated to wine country.)
Everyone has been incredibly warm and welcoming, as well. I don’t know if it’s something in the water or just a result of all of that extra vitamin D, but we’ve had so many well wishes. Just the other day, I was at Tim Hortons getting a java when I pulled up to the drive-thru window, ready to hand over my toonie, and was waved off by the girls at the window. The person in line ahead of me had paid for my morning coffee.
Penticton, you’ve put the big city to shame after making this newcomer feel like she’s at home.
If you see me around town, feel free to stop me and say hi — or drop me a line at the office. This job is about people more than anything else, and I can’t wait to hear your stories.
That’s the piece of the journalism puzzle that makes it all worthwhile — and why I suspect my Okanagan education is just beginning.
Simone Blais is a reporter with the Penticton Western News who is at no risk of a Vitamin C deficiency.