Good places to live aren’t always big…
I was thinking today after watching a reasonably decent Super Bowl game yesterday and getting to ski in brisk conditions this morning, that the places we chose for our dwellings are worthy of reflection now and then…
I have lived in some big cities and some that think of themselves as big. Each of them has its own particular charm and certainly there is a utility about metropolitan settings that can be very useful, on occasion. There can be value in having quick access to an IKEA or a large concert hall or a football stadium. But traffic jams can be a hassle and having to wait in the rain for public transit is not all its cracked up to be, even if you are able to sing (or at least carry a tune). So I don’t envy you when you choose a residence in a big city.
When I reflect upon my life, towns like Bassano Alberta, Madoc Ontario, Stratford PEI, all were delightful locales to spend some time within. Neighbours were not only known they were friendly – they actually watched out for you. Bassano was really a ranchers’ town – many lived in the town during the winter and only went out to the ranch to check on cattle. In the summer, some of them had homes on the ranches but quite a few only had bunk-house type accommodation. In Madoc, most people lived in town year round, although a sizable minority also had a cottage on one of the nearby lakes. Stratford was a newer town with only one small shopping centre as most people worked across the bay in Charlottetown which itself was a delightful small city.
Now I live in a city really no bigger than Charlottetown, although it is no capital and does not have all the cultural amenities of the PEI locus of influences. In many ways Penticton is really a big village. It has traffic lights and a couple of shopping centres (well, one mall and a wallmart complex). But mostly it has interesting people and businesses that care about their customers (and many remember your face if not always your name). Like PEI there is a significant artistic community here that adds much to the daily life of the place.
But mostly I like the place because my neighbours know me, look out for me and are friendly. Even more importantly the geographic location is spectacular. Two big lakes, mountains on either side of the valley, several golf courses, good biking trails, beaches, parks, and places to walk away from traffic, all combine to give a sense of serenity to one’s daily life. And then in the winter, I’m only thirty minutes or so from a very special ski hill. It’s not as famous as Whistler or Lake Louise and it doesn’t have the same kind of mountain village that Big White or Silver Star here in the Valley have. But today I was reminded why Apex Resort is so special. The wind chill was more than -20C but there was new snow on groomed runs. The visibility at times was great because the sun came out. Now today I only got in seven runs before my fingers and toes suggested I should quit – so I did. But it meant I was back in Penticton before noon — up at a normal time, brekkie, the drive up, skied, drove back and had lunch at the normal time. Why? For one thing: there had been no line-ups; for another: the skiing was fast and firm. The net result: I was just super glad I could take it all in.
When I total up the skiing so far this season – since late December – I realized I have skied thirteen days and managed 121 runs. This results in a total of 56,066 Vertical metres, a linear distance of 284.2 kilometres and a maximum speed on one of the days of 71.4 km.hr. That is a good deal of fun to help enjoy the winter (and there still are two months of skiing left). Soooooo, if you are finding winter to be a bit of a drag and you don’t want to spend the entire time in a hot climate, why don’t you come to the little world of Penticton… there’s a guest suite on the same floor as my study (which has a soaker tub which comes in handy at the end of the day). Furthermore my very good friend Sandy shares his condo so that we can get into our ski clothes on the mountain which makes it much more comfortable driving up and back. There is a good pub (called The Gunbarrel) at the end of the main run with good food and excellent local beer & wine… and remember there are no line-ups at the lifts (if they get to be more than two minutes, we tell the tourists to go home!!).
Each locale has its own charms, its own benefits, its own uniquenesses… Penticton certainly does and even though it was cold today, it still provided half a day of outdoors fresh air… makes me glad to be alive – and what more can you want from the place you live, than for it to make you feel glad to be alive…