September 4, 2023 Where Did The Summer Go?

Published by Victor Barr on

The last few weeks have flown by in a flash of smoke, flames, and landslides. Summer 2023 will undoubtedly go down as one to remember. For some, it may be one they’d sooner forget. 

The heat and sunshine warmed our valley and I never wanted to end. But in the back of my mind, I had anxiety and worry. When would the smoke come? When would fire strike? I never thought it would come so close to home. Yet we stood at the top of our hill and watched flames lick the sky. 

And just when we thought it was over and we could return to a semblance of normal, a landslide struck the main highway in the valley and all hell broke loose. 

The crack in the mountain feels deep and reflects the crack I feel in my heart about the disasters that have struck our paradise.

Paradise lost…

After a week of volunteering at the evacuation centre, I thought things would calm down and I’d have time to work on my next book, time to write a blog, and time to breathe… Time.

But time is not always on our side.

It was a shock when we saw the rocks lying strewn across Highway 97. When I saw the crack in the cliff my stomach tumbled into itself. What did we do that made Mother Nature so mad at us? Of course, the government wouldn’t say how long the road would be closed, but most people knew – this wasn’t something that could be fixed any time soon.

So I decided to do my part in finding a solution. 

I decided to run a water taxi service from our slip in Peachland to Summerland. It would be a way to make up for some of our lost business when they closed our area to tourists. And it would be a way to help people who were stranded by the disaster. Our first trip was a wedding in Summerland. A wedding with forty guests needing to be taxied by boat from Peachland to Summerland. I took two trips and two boats but we managed to transport everyone there in time for the celebration. 

From the drop-off at Summerland, I needed to go to Barona Beach in West Kelowna. That would have been fun if it wasn’t for the extreme wind that was blowing from the north. The waves hammered the hull of my vessel and I crossed the lake in search of calmers waters. It was like the week we’d just gone through but instead of fires hammering our valley, it was the waves that can hammer our lives. 

I pushed on and drove into the fierce wind and churning water. My back felt every blow, every swell. There was no escape from the coming wind, all I could do was absorb the blows with my legs and slowly make my way forward. 

Until I reached the corner and the lake bent to the east. The wind released its grip on the lake and the waters calmed to a sifting ripple. Soon I was back up to speed and rushing toward my goal. The storm became a recent memory that made me appreciate the beauty of the moment. 

I pulled up to the dock where my guests were waiting. Excitement covered their faces and we set out. Away from the rushing waves of the southern part of the lake. We passed under the Bennet Bridge and cruised the shore. It was an eerie sensation staring at the ruined homes perched on the mountainside across from Kelowna. I felt a sadness eat at the pit of my stomach. The fire that struck with such fury was now a ruined memory that hung onto my soul. I thought back to the week before when I watched these homes engulfed in flames. 

It all felt surreal, yet far too real.

That night we returned to retrieve the wedding guests from their celebration. It was a late night and the foul smell of too much alcohol and not enough control was the only tip my riders left me when I hosed off the boat after midnight. One of my longest days of the year was over. Soon it would be time to do it all again. We had another wedding in two days and then a week of water taxi rides. 

In spurts and flourishes, I write the words on the page, looking for a time when it will slow again. Soon we will be going on another adventure, one where I hope to begin my new career as a writer. We leave for Greece in a few days and I will be forced to let go. Forced to let others take control where I cannot.

I look forward to that time with dread and anticipation. 


Categories: Daily Journal


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