This is the Life: A summer of dreams in the Creston Valley

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After what seemed like a winter that didn’t happen and an unusually hot spring, it seems we are settling into a lovely summer. The often wet and dreary June didn’t materialize and July looks like it will be just as nice. Bring it on, I say.

Canada Day weekend was a great intro to what most of us think of as summer, with fond memories of school holidays etched forever in our memories, even if nostalgia is defined as a longing for times that never existed. After an early morning hike on Goat Mountain on Friday I headed out to Canyon Park, where parking was at a premium. Hundreds of people were milling around, many still talking about the great breakfast. It was excellent news to learn that about 420 breakfasts were served — a tribute to the volunteers who had anticipated about 300 customers.

I enjoyed the horse riding exhibition with old-timey music blaring out of the speakers, had a bit of a glimpse of the slo-pitch ball game in progress, chatted with any number of folks and took the usual photos of dignitaries in attendance.

Then I headed back to town where Centennial Park was the scene of more Canada Day festivities. What a delightful improvement over the asphalt parking lot at the community complex, which serves its purpose of holding cars well, but is pretty much a dud for large crowds on a hot day. In contrast, the grass (and even un-sodded dirt surface around the new Rotary gazebo) was a delight. Countless attendees arrived with lawn chairs, kids screamed and ran through the splash park, others enjoyed the great playground and, eventually, Velle Weitman and her band entertained from the shade of the gazebo. It was a treat to see many of this year’s Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award recipients being introduced, and the Lions Club burgers were tasty as always.

On Saturday I attended the unveiling of Stewart Steinhauer’s huge granite sculpture#mce_temp_url# in front of the new Kunze Gallery beside the grain elevators. Only days earlier I had helped cover the piece with a giant white tarp, but seeing it unveiled was an emotional experience. There is something about the enormity and weight of stone sculptures that add to the emotional response one feels in their presence. As I stood in front of this marvelous work and thought of the depth of its intention I felt tears welling up. Similar experiences from my past, including time spent in front of Michelangelo’s David, Prisoners and Pieta masterpieces, flooded back, and I felt a profound sense of gratitude for being at that place in Creston at that exact time.

As Sandy Kunze, her husband Dirk, and family and friends have worked in recent weeks to get the gallery ready, I have once again been reminded of the value that art and artists add to our community. The reminder was reinforced afterward, as I walked through the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market, thrilled to see how it has grown and thrived in recent years. What bounty we all share!

Earlier on that Saturday morning, and the two mornings following, I had again hiked from our back door up Goat Mountain. Since last year, when Angela was preparing for a hike along a portion of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain, we have been exploring various roads and trails on the mountain, thrilled that we can hike without needing a car to reach a starting point. We have discovered a number of circle routes about nine to 11 kilometres in length that offer about two hours of exercise, fresh air, birdsong, flowers and spectacular views of the Creston Valley. A typical hike from our 16th Avenue home takes us far enough west that we look down and back to Indian Road and the Highway 3/3A junction, and eastward above the Creston-Erickson boundary. Best of all, as early risers we can set out on a hike knowing that we will be home in time to shower, dress and get ready for the workday.

I have great sympathy for visitors to this area, especially city dwellers, who get only a tiny glimpse of all that the Creston Valley has to offer. Even those little insights, though, can be enough to inspire a return, often permanent, as they did for us 37 years ago.

Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.