Minus 2 degrees Celsius this morning. If ever there was a sign it was time to leave, this was it. This cool crisp morning; unseasonable for this time of year in Kelowna, called for some layering up for my walk to the Sunshine Market. Living on an uphill slope affords one lovely views, but when it comes to walking, it is next to impossible to avoid some uphill climbs. Good exercise for sure, but sometimes I yearn for a flat track. It is a 2 km trot downhill for provisions...followed by the same 2 kms back up. I have done it a few times this summer, not as often as I should have but at least I did not let it scare me off completely.
The downhill portion is easy, needless to say with only an odd twinge in my shins as any downhill trekking will cause on my aging bones. I set out at a brisk pace, my layers not quite as warm as I had hoped. I followed the now familiar Chute Lake Road down past a few blocks of houses, round the bend past the organic winery, a couple of cherry and peach orchards and the intersection of Lakeshore Road and down another slope to the market.
As I contemplated the changing scenery, I noticed I was following a set of deer hoof prints all along the shoulder of the road. There was something lovely about that. The doe (I made the assumption it was a she by the delicate nature and size of the tracks) had journeyed down this exact path very recently. Clearly, we humans did not own the road. I smiled at that thought. As I got closer to the market the tracks ended. I stopped and paused and looked to the left where it looked like she had turned. I squinted and strained my eyes looking down the shadowy rows of peach trees to see if I could spot her moving along the dewy long grass that ran along the rows, but she had vanished I guessed. She had likely set out earlier than I did.
The open market farm stand where I had stopped many times over the summer to buy lush ripe cherries by the pound was vacant. Closed for the season. The sign by the drive at the next orchard that invited you to pick your own peaches had been taken down. All around me, the signs were glaringly obvious. Summer was over. Fall was well underway and the temperature was foreshadowing what would inevitably come...cold and snow. Canadian winter.
However, for now, the last hurrah of colour was surrounding me and I was grateful for the cooler air on my ascent back up the road. The grapes that had hung heavily just a few short weeks ago, were snipped and gone leaving rows and rows of thick leaved vines, their job done for the season. As I was scanning the rows for any grapes that had been missed, I nearly stepped on a dead bird at the side of the road. Whenever I come across any sort of dead bird or animal, for some reason it always startles me and causes me to jump. This bird was particularly frightening to me, it's neck was twisted, the beak wide open and facing upward as though in its last moments it was beseeching the sky to rescue him. Maybe seeing sights such as these are reminders of our own mortality. One minute you're flying around, the world is your oyster and the next minute you're laying on the ground, not really ready to meet your maker but your time is up.
Shaking off the aura of death, I continued along, wishing now I had left a layer behind, my bag of apples from a local orchard weighing me down a bit. At about the two thirds mark, I turned to admire the view. The view I see almost everyday as my car heads into town. It is always a moment I love as I turn the corner and Okanagan Lake appears off in the distance flanked by the surrounding mountains. It is like a postcard. Picture perfect in every way. I never tire of it. It lifts my spirits even on a cloudy day. I stopped to take a shot like an addict who just cannot get enough - water views my drug of choice. The opposite side of the road where I stood is lined with old willow trees, their sweeping long tendrils falling like a curtain of green along the roadside. More beauty.
Up past the willows, brilliant russet Sumac cried out to have their picture taken as well, so I stopped once again. It occurred to me this morning's journey was like a Canadian send-off. The flora, the fauna, the water and the mountains doing their very best to imprint their images in my mind asking me to never forget them. Take us with you. Remember us.
Not to worry my home and native land. You are a part of me like a maple leaf tattooed on my heart.
And that, unlike the autumn leaves, can never change, eh?