Search

naramata-blend

Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.

Tag

#Naramataslow

Five Naramata secrets too good to keep

25317339_1526847730685464_1539636960_o.jpg
Photo by Preserved Light
1.Where the Universe Aligns

For a fleeting time every June, around the time of the summer solstice, the setting sun lines up to shine its dying rays through the Kettle Valley Railway’s Little Tunnel, above the Village of Naramata. Photogenic on any day of the year, this tunnel engineered by Andrew McCulloch more than 100 years was blasted out of a rock cliff that hangs dramatically over the Okanagan Lake.

The summer solstice,  June 21st, is the longest days of the year for anyone living north of the equator and marks the beginning of summer. If pagan rituals are your thing, how cool would hiking up (or driving) to the tunnel to mark the occasion be?

No one really knows why Stonehenge was built some 5,000 years ago. But one possibility is that it was used to mark solstices and equinoxes. That’s because during the summer solstice, the sun rises just over the structure’s Heel Stone and hits the Altar Stone dead centre. I wonder if McCulloch knew about the solstice magic he created?  Bring your camera. Preserved Light‘s Caillum Smith often offers photography workshops at Little Tunnel during the solstice.  If you go, don’t touch the tunnel walls when the sun’s rays pierce through it as you will likely be transported through the stone and back in time and find yourself in the middle of the Battle of Culloden. Right?

IMG_2049.jpg
The views from the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, called the KVR by locals, are so stunning that I can still conjure up the feeling I had when first gob-smacked by them. The KVR is a notable part of the Trans Canada Trail.
2. We Love our Public Art 

25323057_1526847754018795_1800959651_n-1.jpg
Photo by Preserved Light

Although I don’t want to reveal the exact location of this amazing art to help preserve it, Naramata has some very special rocks.  Some of the most intriguing images of Canadian rock art or pictographs are painted on cliffs in interior British Columbia. The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia was the traditional territory of the Interior Salish peoples, hunters and gatherers who followed a seasonal migration. Their material culture was simple and easily transportable, and they had very little impact on their environment. They did leave behind one sign of their presence however – their paintings on stone, or pictographs.

Painted in red ochres, iron oxides mixed with clay, the designs were applied with fingers or sticks and were thought to be painted by teenagers as part of their puberty rituals or by adults painting images from dreams.

3. We Aren’t Afraid of the Dark

IMG_2635 2.jpg
Photo taken in my very dark yard.
A big part of the appeal of Naramata is what we don’t have such as no fast-food outlets, no traffic lights, no industrial development and very few streetlights. It’s dark at night, inky black in some spots and this is rare today and valuable.

Star gazing, Northern Lights watching and awareness of the phases of the moon are a special part of life here and should not be undervalued according to Elizabeth Griffin, Visiting Astronomer at the NRC, and also Member of the Light Pollution Committee, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Victoria Centre. “Light pollution affects astronomy in a big way. Stars are faint and distant and the scattered light from our cities makes them hard to see. Observation now requires costly equipment in remote locations,” she says. “All this light is bad for us as well. We don’t sleep as well when its not dark meaning we have less melatonin that we need to repair our bodies. Light pollution damages sensitive eco-systems like those of insects and birds, and eventually damages the whole bio-system upon which we depend for food.”

(This helps explain why our guests from urban areas talk about how well they sleep here…)

Dr. Griffin tells me a story passed on by the director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. “There was a significant earthquake in 1980 in the LA area and it disrupted electrical cables plunging LA into darkness. The switchboard at the observatory became jammed with calls by people reporting that they had seen something unusual. It turns out that they were able to see the Milky Way for the first time. There is something so sad about that.”

We can see the Milky Way here and many other constellations and planets by lying on our backs on our lawn and gazing up. “You are lucky,” says Dr. Griffin. “Municipalities are doing quite a lot like ensuring street lights are angled down and shutting off sport’s field lights at night but there are no laws regulating the use of domestic lights. All we can do is try to educate people that all this light is damaging and unnecessary and that they are missing out on something special.

“The Okanagan is good for star watching,” adds Dr. Griffin. “You are relatively sparsely populated there and there are a lot of pockets behind the mountains where you are quite well shielded from lights.”

Along with embracing the darkness, Naramatians are also treated to quiet that allows us to hear birds and wildlife. My current favourite thing is opening my deck door early in the morning to listen to a pair of owls talking to each other. Also part and parcel of life in our Village are the wonderful scents of sage and pine that are released in summer evenings on hot days.

 

25286074_1526847710685466_432652713_o.jpg
A requirement to see and photograph the Northern Lights is darkness. Photo by Preserved Light
4. We Let it All Slip Slide Away

There is a little-known spot on Naramata Creek where a waterfall has some chutes and pools suitable for a little sliding.  Tucked away up Arawana, an old forest service road, and along a trail, these rock slides provide a bit of cool fun.

25319843_1526847747352129_2109159726_o.jpg
Photo by Preserved Light

5. We are Internationally Recognized for our Slow Pace of Life

Naramata is one of only three Canadian communities with a special status as a “slow city” bestowed on us by Cittaslow, an international organization formed in Orvieto Italy in 1999.  We join Cowichan Bay and Wolfville as places where the pace of life is a bit more human.

To quote from the charmingly translated Italian on the Cittaslow website, “A Cittaslow place is motivated by curious people of a recovered time, where man is still protagonist of the slow and healthy succession of seasons, respectful of citizens’ health, the authenticity of products and good food, rich of fascinating craft traditions, of valuable works of art, squares, theatres, shops, cafes and restaurants. These are places of the spirit and unspoiled landscapes characterized by spontaneity of religious rites and respect the traditions of the joy of slow and quiet living.”

As a way of celebrating our Cittaslow status, Naramata holds a harvest dinner in the fall. One of the organizers of the dinner, Miranda Halladay, said, “ Naramatians have an encyclopedia of reasons why they feel lucky enough to call this place home, covering the spectrum from peacocks (a secret for another day…we have resident peacocks that wander around in our Village) to people. The Cittaslow designation prompts us to think and to talk about these aspects of our community, to protect and foster these elements that are integral to living NaramataSlow.

“Creating and sharing a meal focused on the immense and delicious bounty our community produces with friends, neighbours and visitors alike feels like a natural tradition in the making, and the right way to foster conversation.”

Thanks to Preserved Light for collaborating with me on this post!

IMG_1970.jpg
My photo from the first dinner in 2016 now well on its way to being an annual tradition.

25317016_1526847727352131_294299294_o.jpg
Photo by Preserved Light

Naramata – Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart

IMG_2503.JPG
Old Main Road

Literally at the end of the road lies one of the most unexpectedly delightful places in the world. The temptation is to keep the discovery a secret. Fortunately Naramatians are too sociable and ardent about their home not to share and bloggers can’t keep any secret at all.

A trip along Naramata Road toward the Village is a sensory experience whose end result is an extraordinary sense of well-being. The scientists have gone to work and come up with a formula for scenery that most appeals to people (they study everything right?) and the Naramata Benchlands ticks all the boxes. It’s to do with the proportion of sky, the straight lines of the vineyards and orchards and the expanse of the blue lake grounding it all.

IMG_2535.JPG

Travelling through a winescape of row upon row of trellised grapevines dotted with sympathetically designed winery architecture and guest accommodation, the road twists and turns to reveal new vistas. Scientists tells us that we like making discoveries and the “I wonder what’s around the next corner?” feeling we get when heading from Penticton to Naramata fits the bill. The vines and orderly orchards advance across rolling hills that all lead down to the shores of Okanagan Lake and the elevation of Naramata Road lets us appreciate it all.

IMG_2338.JPG
Hillside Winery

Once lured in by the scenery it’s what Naramatians have produced from this naturally gifted growing region moderated by the lake that adds the next layer to our pleasure. Naramata’s artisanal products are lovingly produced by people whose lives are devoted to their craft whether it be wine, spirits, fruits and vegetables, pottery or painting and they revel in sharing this passion. Wine and culinary experiences are top-notch and varied but all share a similar philosophy. Skill and a light touch are used to let the ultra-premium, local, in-season ingredients shine.

IMG_0595.JPG
Lunch with scenery at Legend Distilling.

The village itself has lost all track of time. No traffic lights, no chain stores, few streetlights to blot out the stars, Naramata is made up of quiet streets with a mix of cottages and modest houses with well-kept gardens. A little church with bells that ring at noon, a general store shaded by elms, artisans and shops sprinkled here and there, cozy restaurants, the world’s best pizza place, a welcoming coffee shop, busy pub… Anchoring the Village, the perfectly in-keeping  Heritage Inn sits and the end of the main street, as it has for more than a century.

IMG_2335.JPG
Heritage Inn

Naramata’s quality and human pace of life is internationally recognized. We have been given the designation as a Cittaslow town. Cittaslow towns celebrate life in the slow lane, locally grown products and the slow food movement, in places where people care for the land and for each other.

img_2072
View of the Village from the Kettle Valley Railway trail.

Based in the Tuscany region of Italy, the Cittaslow network and accredited communities have a mandate to improve the quality of life. It’s karma that we have this Italian designation. Our town’s founder, John Moore Robinson produced a brochure in 1907 calling Naramata, with its wonderful climate, the Italy of Canada.

IMG_6234
Apple orchards are still a lovely part of the Old Main Estate in the Village.

Naramataslow

As part of the Cittaslow philosophy, I’m working to bring local chefs into the Village to teach us how to use all the lovely produce (like the raspberries from our Carpe Diem berry farm) to bake and cook for our friends, families and the many guests who have come to love our secret place.

The first guest Chef, Dana Ewart of Joy Road Catering is an Okanagan superstar. She is going to show us why we need brioche in our lives. CC Orchards will be providing sweet dried cherries for use as one of our brioche ingredients.

Tickets to the December 10 class are half sold and I’m thrilled with the response from the Village about the new venture. Here’s the link to join in Naramata Blend Cooking Class Series Brioche!  A second class on eclairs and profiteroles is in the works for February…

Naramata’s contribution to the Trans Canada Trail – So stunning the scenery looks fake

IMG_2072.JPG
I get the feeling I’m looking at an expertly painted back drop for a movie set on certain days on the Kettle Valley Railway section of the Trans Canada Trail (The Great Trail) looking over the Village of Naramata. I get that same feeling in other special places in the world too…like Venice.

When Canada turns 150 next year our biggest present to ourselves will be the completion of greatest trail in the world. Now called The Great Trail, “this epic trail was created by thousands of dreamers, can-doers, volunteers, friends and partners sharing the same audacious goal of connecting our country,” says The Great Trail site.

Our section of the trail came about by funds raised the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, Trails B.C. and locally the regional district and Naramata Parks and Recreation. An active, amazing volunteer group called the Woodwackers formed in the late 1990s are the stewards of this magnificent remnant of the Kettle Valley Railway or KVR. The KVR opened in 1915 to service the growing mining demands in the Southern Interior of BC. The interesting history of the building of the KVR deserves some posts of it own. Just a couple of facts for now…construction was some of the costliest per track mile of any North American railroad project at almost $20 million and it took nearly 20 years to complete. The core portion of the KVR started in Hope  and terminated in Midway. Fruit from the Okanagan was an important commodity carried on the trains.

IMG_2061.JPG
Photos taken yesterday on my walk show the vineyards leaves starting to turn.

The KVR tracks were removed in the Naramata – Chute Lake area in 1980 and the BC government bought the KVR right-of-way through Naramata from Canadian Pacific Railway in 1990 and the province endorsed the Trans Canada Trail initiative in 1993. Good decisions.

IMG_2039.JPG
My favourite viewpoint is an easy walk from the Smethurst parking lot.
IMG_2038.JPG
This is it…the spot that the really nice trail brings you into a clearing and the view so beautiful that it seems unreal reveals itself…gets me every time.

The Woodwackers roll into action in the late 1990s to help give us this beautifully cycle-friendly, walker, runner, cross country ski, horseback trail. In 2010 things heat up in Naramata as a move begins to make the majority of the trail non-motorized with very vocal and hostile opposition to this plan. Hard work and conflict resolution help win the day. The wise decision to keep all but a small section of the trail non-motorized have given us arguable one of the most beautiful portions of The Great Trail.

IMG_2027.JPG
The spruce that hosts this sign has painted some new routes on the map with its shadows. Road less travelled?

The Great Trail will link 15,000 communities including mine along 24,000 kilometres. However we choose to experience the trail, the result is a connection with the outdoors.

img_2049
Spoiled, the KVR trailhead is a mere kilometre from our house and this viewpoint is a great turn-around point in a five or six kilometre walk. I guess I’m not as unique as I think, about 30% of Canadians live within 30 minutes of the The Great Trail.(Maybe not as pretty as this bit.)
IMG_2065.JPG
I often see eagles at this spot on the trail and less often, black bears.
img_2581
This next series of photos is from the summer –scenery also too good to be real right with summer lighting as well?
IMG_2567.JPG
Nice spot for a wine break and some photos.

IMG_2571.JPG

IMG_2594.JPG
This light at the end of Little Tunnel is the reward at the end of a nice bike or a long run from our place.
IMG_2621.JPG
Skaha Lake and Penticton in the distance and Naramata’s bays below.

IMG_2613.JPG

Would love to hear from Canadians about the part of The Great Trail you love in the comments.

 

Guess who’s coming for dinner…the whole darn Village

IMG_1974.JPG

IMG_1970.JPG
Cheers to Naramata and its Naramatians

“Slow down your movin too fast,” is seldom heard in Naramata, an internationally officially-designated slow town.

A Thanksgiving harvest pot-luck at the Naramata Centre beach brought together 182 people who arrived with baskets, platters and bowls filled with locally-grown ingredients crafted into home-made dishes to share at long table under golden-leafed trees by the shores of Okanagan Lake while toasting with Naramata Bench wines. If that sounds a bit too schmaltzy and bucolic, you weren’t there.

IMG_1945.JPG
Mel, Yanti and Don provided the perfect sound-track for the event that could well have been a scene from a movie.

The Naramataslow dinner was designed to celebrate Naramata’s special status as slow city bestowed on us by Cittaslow, an international organization formed in Orvieto Italy in 1999. Only three special towns in Canada are Cittaslow. We join Cowichan Bay and Wolfville as places where the pace of life is a bit more human.

To quote from the charmingly translated Italian on the Cittaslow website, “A Cittaslow place is motivated by curious people of a recovered time, where man is still protagonist of the slow and healthy succession of seasons, respectful of citizens’ health, the authenticity of products and good food, rich of fascinating craft traditions, of valuable works of art, squares, theatres, shops, cafes and restaurants. These are places of the spirit and unspoiled landscapes characterized by spontaneity of religious rites and respect the traditions of the joy of slow and quiet living.”

Slow food or local food of high quality with connection to the local land made into traditional recipes where the community comes together for a shared meal to savour this intrinsic part of life is pretty much the essence of Cittaslow and last evening’s Naramataslow dinner.

IMG_1964.JPG
In the midst of a rainy weekend, the sun chose to shine on the 182 diners in one of the most picturesque places in Canada.

Centre stage on the menu for the special dinner was a pit-roasted pig and not just any pig but one that was raised on the bounty of the Village and surroundings. Pig-raiser and Roast-master Jay Drysdale of Bella Wines and his wife Wendy raised this particular pig on mash from Legend Distilling, whey from Upper Bench Winery and Creamery and fruit culls from local orchards.

“I hate to ask but did the pig have a name,” I say. “Yup,” says Wendy, “Chorizo.” Makes sense right and in some strange way makes me feel better than if had been named Babe or Wilbur.

IMG_1924.JPG
It’s hard to make meat photogenic but I think I nailed it here…apologies to all the vegetarians out there who had many, many options to choose from at the feast.

Naramataslow organizers had the foresight not to over-plan the event, although committee member Miranda Halliday of Elephant Island Winery says the event was a bit of a “leap of faith. We didn’t have tons of time for preparation and what with harvest being so early this year and all of us small business people being busy it came together rather organically and was actually sold out before we had done much advertising.

“It turned out that the simplicity of it was brilliant. The community came together to pull this off.” As for the weather, Miranda says, “You just can’t script that. What a bonus to have the sunshine on our first harvest dinner so we could eat outside by the lake.”

Tickets to the dinner were a whopping $5 and guests were asked to bring a dish for sharing that celebrates our local bounty. Wow, did we ever step up to the plate. Here are some of the offerings…

IMG_1940.JPG
Committee member Dawn Lennie of Legend Distilling dresses her work of art.
IMG_1933.JPG
Eat the rainbow.
IMG_1928.JPG
Roasted root veggies.
IMG_1935.JPG
Still life…salad.
IMG_1963.JPG
Yum
IMG_1938.JPG
Recipes like the one for these colourful latkes are being collected and will be shared in the coming days.
IMG_1948.JPG
Still life #2…Trifle by the lake
IMG_1951.JPG
A part of the Naramataslow miracle, Miranda says there was an amazing balance between sweet and savoury items amongst the lovingly prepared recipes with no complicated pre-planning or sign-up sheets.
IMG_1955.JPG
Still life #3…apple pie with caramel sauce by the lake.
IMG_1988.JPG
This nameless person had the forethought to assemble dessert before tackling that healthy looking main. The raspberry almond tart topping this dessert plate is my contribution and the recipe can found in the link. The last of my fall raspberry crop ended up in the tarts.
IMG_1981.JPG
Wine was available by the glass or bottle from a wonderful selection of Naramata Bench Winery Association members. Cheers to them.
IMG_2008.JPG
Pass the salt please.
IMG_2017.JPG
General conviviality is a Cittaslow prerequisite. Crushed it.
img_2014
Miranda says that there was a nice mix of ages at the dinner.  (I like the adult supervisor’s style.)

Miranda says there is a long list of people that help pull off this amazing dinner including the RDOS (regional district), OAP (senior’s group), the Naramata Centre’s Jim, the pig providers Jay and Wendy, the organizing committee (Dawn, Miranda, Jay, Trevor and Nicole and their kids who helped with the set-up, the musicians (Yanti, Don and Mel), Ian  who set up the sound system, Naramata Bench Wineries Association, local photographers Lone Jones and Callum, the poster designer Renee and Chorizo.

IMG_1991.JPG
A preserve exchange table was set up. Yeah! I made a lot of grape jelly this year.
IMG_2007.JPG
That’ll do, pig. That’ll do. The left-over pork has been frozen and will be used to make soup for community Christmas hampers.
IMG_2022.JPG
“It was a bit of a leap of faith,” Miranda says. “There wasn’t time for tons of prep. But we knew it would work. This is Naramata.”

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑