I grew up in a tiny house by Okanagan lake and a small range of mountains nestled between the Cascade and Rocky mountain range. The land around our house was used primarily for rearing cattle but was the perfect place for exploration. We were blessed to experience all four of Mother Nature’s seasons and we utilized each equally. The mountains — a vast expanse of imaginative wonder — sat beyond my bedroom wall. At night, when I was a child, I would dream of marvellous things waiting for me outside in the mountains as I lay down to sleep.
I was about six years old when I was finally freed from my mother’s watchful eye and allowed to explore the world around me. The landscape provided the most excellent adventures for us all year long. By early March, the mountain face was covered with delicate little buttercups. The air was fragrant and the sun pleasantly warmed my face in the still-cool breeze. I loved waking up each morning to the chipper sound of the marmots as they blissfully chattered back and forth to each other. During the summer I would venture into the wild and explore the many worlds that existed in the folds of the mountain range.
Summers in the Okanagan are best enjoyed outside. My summer days meant roaming the countryside, scavenging under rocks and logs, digging for worms, patiently awaiting a nibble on my hook or foolishly panning for gold. The pasture beside my house had a little mountain stream that ran through it. Days and days were spent following the stream up the mountain valley, through forest and meadow clearings in search of gold and adventure. Fall would creep up with the subtle change in leaf colour. The valley was covered mostly in evergreens so we were hardly aware of the change in seasons until there was a crispness in the air. In the Winter, the mountain became a snowy wonderland. We never had to go far to experience alpine tobogganing or skiing. The valley where the stream ran became an ice palace and hours were spent skating and sliding down the icy frozen rocks.
I hold these memories of my childhood adventures fondly in my heart. Now, when I go home to visit, the mountain holds something more for me. I always find the energy to climb the first knoll over looking my old house and lay out my blanket, light my sage and wash myself in the smoke where I pray to the Creator for the strength of the mountain, the consistency of the stream, the growth of the trees and the courage of the sun. I look out over the valley, listen to the breeze as it moves all around me and feel at peace in the place I call home.