“just like that” (Mary Oliver)

one house

We haven’t spent time in the south Okanagan for a few years. Last fall we drove through quickly, on our way home from Alberta, and didn’t stop. But after the Word on the Lake Festival in Salmon Arm, we drove down to Osoyoos for a couple of nights. This morning, first thing, we bought wine at Nk’Mip, heading over to the Black Sage Bench afterwards to buy more wine at Desert Hills and to stop at the Haynes Ranch. The sky was moody and the buildings had their usual faded beauty. John thought he saw a snake skin under the foundations of the house where rattlesnakes den and then as we walked back to the car, we saw either the remnants of a shed skin or else the remnants of a flattened snake caught up in weeds at the side of the road.


A walk along the river in Oliver where Bullock’s orioles sang in the trees and yellow-breasted chats flew from willow to willow. I thought of Mary Oliver’s poem about the chats:

how I would like to sing to you
all night
in the dark
just like that

Wild roses bloomed on either side of the river. We sat on a bench, listening to water and birdsong, and then drove up the site of Fairview, once a thriving town, some say the largest north of San Francisco, and now a sage field on a slope of the hill with a sign warning of rattlesnakes and ticks. Thinking about the past and where it goes when its buildings disappear made me hungry so we had lunch at Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery, possibly the most dramatic restaurant anywhere, cantilevered over the side of a hill, and serving beautiful food with glasses of excellent wine. (How I would like to sing to you.)

All day there’s been wind, small gusts of rain, and I’m thinking of the drive home tomorrow, through Keremeos, Hedley, Princeton, and Hope, the car weighed down with wine and memories, a few tiny wildflowers pressed into the field-guide, and my shoes dusty with Haynes Ranch earth, maybe a seed or two hitch-hiking in the hem of my jeans.

haynes ranch

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