Sadly, Sunday’s fresh dusting of snow is slowly disappearing. The surrounding mountains, so beautifully decorated in a cloak of lacy white yesterday morning, appear to be shrugging their shawl. With my brother and sister-in-law and their three young boys arriving soon for Christmas, we in the Linden household have been praying for some snow. Coming from Maple Ridge, where rain is more frequent than the fluffy white stuff, my brother’s family will arrive with much more than bags of presents and diaper bags; they will come with the expectation of a white Christmas. And being hospitable hosts who regularly lure visitors with promises of perfect Okanagan weather (sunshine by summer; snowy-but-not-too-much by winter), we hope to deliver.
Michael (my brother) and I grew up in Victoria: a truly spectacular city by the sea. Every time I return and that ferry docks and the scent of salt and creosote drying on wood invades my nostrils, inviting nostalgia of my youth with its provocative scent, I am wistful and wonder what life would have been like if I’d stayed or returned after university. My brother’s career began (and continues to grow) on the lower mainland. I moved to Kelowna for the love of my life. While most of our family and many of our friends remain on the island, Michael and I have built homes elsewhere. And while a piece of my heart will always be in Victoria, I am truly grateful to be here. I’ve lived in a number of cities, even overseas, and know how blessed I am to call Kelowna home.
We all identify ourselves by place and in her novel, Annabel, author Kathleen Winter beautifully describes Jacinta’s longing for St. John’s, the city Jacinta grew up in. Winter’s words evoke a sense of the energy and characters and colours of city life. In particular, I loved this passage, in which the author compares St. John’s to Croydon Harbour:
“Monochromatic Croydon Harbour, where to see colour you had to learn to find red hiding deep inside green, orange hiding in blue. In the city, the colour, the life, came shouting out. Human life. In Croydon Harbour human life came second to the life of the big land, and no one seemed to mind. No one minded being an extra in the land’s story.”
I just think that last line is brilliant! Winter frequently compares the characters who were born in Labrador or who naturally breathe the land to those who never connect with it. Clearly she maintains an awe and respect for the vast majesty of the place, yet the way she describes the energy and excitement and funky, people-oriented vibe of St. John’s, shows she’s also passionate about the city.
…this discussion to be continued on Wednesday.