Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.



I live in bear country, I live in wine country

Why is this bear all wet? To be revealed.

A late summer evening on our Naramata, British Columbia deck turned into a two bottles of wine, three-hour bear show and some things that you had to see to believe.

A medium-sized black bear, a three-year-old (neighbourhood regular) claws his way up a 40-foot pine making a hell of a racket. He has my attention. A few minutes later it becomes obvious that a much bigger black bear was the cause of his scramble. So now there are two bears up in the tree.

The vineyard owner from our neighbouring property comes by to explain his theory that it’s a battle over territory…namely his beleaguered vineyard that is now stripped of grapes with half his irrigation system in pieces. The vineyard’s name…. Bad Bear Vineyard. Can’t make this stuff up.

During the three-hours, the bigger bear would close the gap between them and give the smaller guy what for.

A bear fight in a very tall tree must be accomplished carefully with claws firmly clinging to the tree and it is very noisy.

Fight night!

In between battles the bears would rest and make themselves as comfortable as possible among the branches.

The smaller guy further up the tree would occasionally break off branches and drop them on his rival. This is the part that starts to be, “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.”

Check out my fur.

The uppermost bear peed on the lower bear. It was full-on, like out of a fire hose. The big guy looked up to see what was going on and pretty much ignored it being a bear and not overly concerned with hygiene. Although, a few minutes later it did wake him up and spark a new battle, so anthropomorphasizing, maybe it did piss him off.

During a break in the action, the little guy almost looks like he is playing around.

Just about out of wine, the fight ended when it began to get dark. The bigger bear clumsily scrabbled his way down the tree while I much more lithely ran for the house. A few minutes later the weaponized smaller bear made his way down and sauntered off.

Tree fort


Not a labour of love…

Our tree fort was not a labour of love…no labour involved. It’s our combined childhood fantasies brought to life. Built over the span of five years with visiting family work parties, it continues to evolve with plans for a rear deck, a third cabin, a rustic spiral staircase surrounding the tree and a rope bridge connection to a tower and said tower.

It houses the bravest of children on overnight adventures and overflow guests who relish a bit of glamping.

It’s a spot for a nap and has become a wildlife photography blind.


This mum spent the afternoon persuading her two cubs to climb down the tree next to the fort. She clearly spotted us but we felt “safeish” in the fort with the trap door shut.

The latest addition is a zip line which was decidedly not safeish during beta testing…It’s bungee cord brake is now set properly.



Both cabins have laminate flooring and electricity. The top cabin of the “skyroom” has screened windows, a futon, some funky antiques and a trunk filled with toys. The bottom cabin is set up more for adults with a queen-size murphy bed and boasts recycled glass windows.

It’s a mystery why anyone with a nice comfortable house would be delighted with a smaller, rustic space. The view from the upper deck, the breezes blowing through and the birds are only part of the story. The kids all think it’s cool. Of course. It’s more about the awakening of the childhood fantasy in every single grown up who has climbed the ladder and lifted the hatch.





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