This is the Life: A perfect day in and around the Creston Valley

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Last week, I led into this column by talking about perfect moments — those precious seconds or minutes that leave one smiling and wishing they could be quick-frozen and stored for future use. On a recent Sunday, a number of perfect moments stretched out and merged to last an entire day. The result was a restless night, sleep taking second priority to a mind swirling with gratitude.

We awoke to the company of our oldest son and his wife, the sixth round of guests we’ve hosted this summer, all of which we have thoroughly enjoyed. Evan and Kate are what I describe as low-maintenance people — they don’t need to be entertained and are the sort of folks who view holidays as a time for relaxation. And, like our younger son and his wife who visited the week before, they are comfortable in the kitchen and took pleasure in planning meals so their working mom and dad came home to wonderful aromas and a chance to sit and chat before dinner.

We had reservations for lunch at Skimmerhorn’s Bistro at the Vineyards and, after a leisurely coffee, headed out to see if the new Wynnwood Winery in Wynndel was open. Unfortunately, we chose a rare time when the shop wasn’t open, so we took a quick look around, then decided to turn our disappointment into opportunity by visiting Galvanized Gallery, where artist Sandy Kunze shows her remarkable work to the public. Sandy’s husband, Dirk, left his long-time employer earlier this summer, so I have had concerns about whether two of my favourite people would be remaining in the Creston Valley. I was relieved to learn during a pleasant conversation with Dirk that he has landed an exciting job that will allow him to remain based in Wynndel.

We wandered around the gallery for a while and Evan and Kate left with a beautiful pottery vase in hand. Next stop: lunch.

We started with a tasting, something I don’t often do, because I drink the wines at home and at restaurants. But as we worked our way through the Skimmerhorn lineup I was impressed at how much more complex the wines have become over the years, the result of maturing vines and the winemakers’ comfort level with what sort of wines they want to make.

Since it opened several years ago, Skimmerhorn’s bistro has been a treat. Good food, good wine, good people and a spectacular view from the deck. This year, though, new chef Andy has kicked things up a notch, presenting dishes that are tasty enough to be memorable. I found myself unable to resist ordering the beef carpaccio appetizer and the seared tuna entrée, a combination I had been thinking about since my last visit. We sat on the deck, in the welcome shade of a tree on that hot August day, sipped our glasses of Pinot Noir and gaped in awe at the beauty of the Creston Valley. We would have been remiss had the view not served as a reminder of how much we have come to love this area since moving here 33 years ago.

A few hours of relaxation back at home and Angela and I were off on our own for the evening, headed east to Cranbrook for our first ever Bob Dylan concert. As soon as the announcement was made that Dylan would be playing at the Rec Plex, I offloaded my quest for (paid) tickets onto Cranbrook Daily Townsman publisher Karen Johnston, who came through in spades. Our seats afforded great views and excellent sound.

Not having seen Dylan live I didn’t really know what to expect. He has a reputation for being unpredictable, so we entered the arena open to just about anything, grateful that the opportunity had arisen for us to see the poet laureate of our generation only an hour’s drive from home.

I started smiling during the first number and my pleasure only increased with each passing song. How does a music legend stay relevant and interested after 50 years of performing? In Dylan’s case, he hires exceptional young musicians and works with them to reinvent his songs. Many weren’t immediately recognizable, the changes were so dramatic. He was clearly enjoying himself and I very much enjoyed the lack of patter — there were no introductions to the songs, no anecdotes, no “Hello, Cranbrook!” — just two solid hours of fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime music. Could we understand all the lyrics? Of course not. Dylan is the master of mumble, not blessed with a clear, pitch-perfect voice. But I chose to hear the voice as another instrument and I loved every second of the performance. The Band, the Robbie Robertson-led group that backed Dylan in his early venture into rock music, would have been proud of this band, I commented.

We drove home at a leisurely pace, tucking in behind a semi and happy to use the time to digest the experience of seeing a musical legend performing at such a high level. When we got home, I tried, between sips of a very nice whiskey, to explain to Evan and Kate what we had just witnessed. I don’t know that I was very successful, but it doesn’t really matter. Being able to debrief in the company of family has enough.

It was a Sunday that I wouldn’t have traded for anything.

Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.