Steele: Giving thanks for life in Okanagan Valley

The abundance of the Okanagan is most evident in autumn.

I am so grateful to have been born and lived most of my life in this abundant,  beautiful valley.

The abundance is most evident in autumn, my favourite time of year. Harvests from gardens and farms are so varied and delicious.

A trip to the Farmer’s Market offers a cornucopia of flavours and textures and colours of foods to choose from.

The rare and heirloom varieties are amazing, thanks to all the farmers who are growing these and saving their precious seeds.

I live a 10 minute walk from Knox Mountain Park, a place that feeds my soul. It is such a gift to be able to walk to wild land from my house.

As a young child, I hiked this mountain with family and learned from my grandmother and father to identify and love the plants.

Like the many who use it, I am grateful that this large natural park has been preserved in the heart of the city.

I can observe the ever-changing display of wildflowers and native shrubs and the insect, bird and other wildlife that find food and shelter there.

In damper areas or higher elevations my favourite tree, the quaking aspen, is now clothed in glorious yellow before shedding her leaves for winter.

I will feast my eyes on these when I take my coastal-dwelling family for our traditional Thanksgiving hike on the KVR this weekend. I am grateful that this linear park is preserved.

Another place I particularly love to walk in fall is the Mission Creek Greenway where cottonwood trees drop a carpet the path in gold.

When I walk the section between Gordon and Casorso I remember, from childhood, watching the kokanee spawning in the gravel beds adjacent to my uncle’s farm. I am grateful for the freedom to walk there any time.

I live just two minutes walk from Redlich Pond. I’m fascinated by the painted turtles living there and love to hear my favourite bird song of the red-winged blackbirds nesting there. A walk to the pond is guaranteed to lift my spirits any time.

The uplifting effects of living in close proximity to water and other natural landscapes is one of the many factors I read about this summer in ‘Happy City’ by Vancouver author Charles Montgomery.

He visited and researched cities all over the world and gives examples of what things make people happy or unhappy with the city they live in.

I found myself longing to experience the specialness of life in the happy cities. The book is packed with ideas we could use to make our city a great place for everyone.

I encourage you to read it and use the information to engage those running for council. Affirm what you think would make Kelowna a happy city and ask them what they will do about it.