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Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.

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October in Naramata — The year’s last smile

“October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!”
Rainbow Rowell, Attachments

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Summerland orchard in a blaze of glory
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View from the Kettle Valley Rail Trail
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Toward Munson Mountain on the Naramata Bench
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Evening light 
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Next-door neighbour

 

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Vineyards of Naramata Bench
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Malbec at harvest time
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Vineyard rows
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Sumac and Giant’s Head
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Rock Oven Vineyard
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Painted Rock view
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Fall sunset over Okanagan Lake
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Manitou Beach sunset, Naramata
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Atop Munson Mountain overlooking Penticton

Harvest

 

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Legend Distilling

 

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Bella Homestead
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Chute Lake Road after the fires 

 

 

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Naramata Sunset

Koffie in Amsterdam

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This cafe, located near Anne Frank’s house, has been a coffee shop for hundreds of years.

When you talk of coffeeshops in Amsterdam it’s not about the coffee but the weed. Amsterdam coffeeshops are local legal dispensaries for marijuana, especially in the Red Light District where most of the 250 such shops are located.

I, on the other hand, went in search of the caffeinated fix. This little photo essay about Amsterdam’s Koffiehuis or cafes will give you a little snippet of the experience. Although not particularly known for their great coffee, the Dutch know a thing or two about presentation. The little cups usually accompanied by a treat and a glass of water are served in lovely cafes where you can linger and people watch.

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What better time of the year than Spring to linger at a cafe where everyone is basking in the sun after a long grey winter.

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The pastries are beautifully presented as well.

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A perfect chocolate on a Delft blue plate is too pretty to eat.

 

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Canal-side.

 

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Another cafe view
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The Dutch are known for their hot chocolate. I bought this mug from a cafe in Delft. I wish I had the hot chocolate in it right now as well.
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Coffee with a blossoming view near Vondel Park.

Five Naramata secrets too good to keep

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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?

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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 

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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

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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.

 

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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.

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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!

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

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Photo by Preserved Light

Where beer begins – hop harvest on the Naramata Bench

It’s harvest time on the Naramata Bench and Square One Hops is an anomaly where it’s vines, pears and apples being harvested. The only hopyard on The Bench makes an interesting photo essay subject.

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The bines are cut from the trellising and a tug-of-war ensues.
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The bines grow to a Jack-and-the-beanstalk towering height before harvest.
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The aromas in the hopyard are a wonderful mixture of citrus, herbal, piney, spicy, garlic, onion, grassy and tobacco. Each step I take on left-behind hops and bines releases these subtle yet heady IPA scents.
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A season’s worth of growth is astounding.
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Part of the crew cutting the bases of the bines. This perennial plant will tower again next year.
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It’s a science to determine when the hops are at their hoppy best.

 

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Smoke from area wildfires makes for some moody photographs.

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Feeding the beast. The hops harvester is a beautiful thing as many small operators pick the hops off the bines by hand.
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Brian Tarasoff, who along with wife Kari, own and operate the two-acre Square One Hops operation in Penticton, is in his element and covered in hops.

 

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The hops will then be dried and most pelletized.

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Hops pellets are preferred for use by many brewers.
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Perfectly ripe hops awaiting the crew and ultimately the brewmaster.

Farmer’s Market – in micro

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A photo essay of the Penticton’s Farmers Market and Community Market — up close…a microcosm of the Okanagan in June.

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A bit of morning magic

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Columbines after the rain

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Secret garden entrance

 

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Potager

 

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Raspberry farm

 

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Statue is called #4 with tree fort in the background

 

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Raspberries…soon

 

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Chives

 

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Helo happiness

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A long standing tradition in Naramata, almost every Easter a helicopter is enlisted to drop eggs onto Manitou Park for kids by our regional district. The kids come dressed up in costume or in their Easter finest. To prevent any eggcidents, the eggs are hollow plastic ones that when gathered up are exchanged for chocolate. The weather is also part of this tradition. It’s been a blue sky day for every egg drop I’ve attended and this year was no exception.

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Chocolate rain about to commence

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Mad scramble

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Never give up.
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Amidst all the chaos.

Hawaii dreaming on such a winter’s day

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Naramata is a paradise but the refusal of winter to pack up and make way for spring and more anticipated….summer…is bringing on Hawaii dreams. This photo essay of time spent in my second paradise is Vitamin D for our soul.

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View from a towel on the beach after a swim in the Pacific.
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White Sands beach in Kona.
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White Sands beach.

 

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Hello there.
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I liked both of these guys.
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Kona coffee in its homeland.
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How many sunset photos can you take?
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A few for sure.
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Maui sunset.

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Last one…
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White Sands beach.
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Maui windsurfing competition.
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Getting some air.

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Stormy day.

 

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Ultimate gone fishing spot.

A lullaby to sleeping vines

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Naramata Bench vines lie sleeping under a blanket of snow
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Vineyard workers rest along with the vines
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Insulating snow helps protect the dormant vines
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Bud break is a few months away
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Rare sunny day in winter in the Valley
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Short days as the sun starts to set in the late afternoon over Okanagan Lake

A Calgary Highlander plays a mournful lullaby at Legend Distilling on the Naramata Bench.

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