Columnist Margaret Miller is a longtime Creston Valley resident.

Columnist Margaret Miller is a longtime Creston Valley resident.

Valley Views: Staying Put

ā€˜Iā€™m less like the Canadian Geese that head south when temperatures drop and more like the Snowy Owls - content to ruffle my feathers and stick around until spring.ā€™

By Margaret Miller, a longtime Creston Valley resident

The trees have shed their leaves, sub-zero temperatures have rolled in, and puffy jackets and toques have been pulled from closets. My deck furniture is stored, the firewood is split and stacked, and the dog’s water dish has been moved inside.

While these winter transitions are happening, there are others in our valley who have closed up their homes for the season, packed suitcases and vehicles, and headed south to warmer climes. Arizona for four months perhaps. Or Mexico until March. Maybe a flight to Belize or Honduras. The annual migration of the “Snowbirds”, a nickname I was unfamiliar with before my move to Canada.

In my birth country, Australia, retired folk who venture from home for extended periods during winter are know as “Grey Nomads”. Most head off in trailers or motor homes, leaving behind mild afternoon temperatures in the low teens and overnight lows hovering above zero. Most Grey Nomads live in areas that never see snow or ice. So in their southern hemisphere search for winter adventure, they head north rather south. Some tour desert areas that are simply too hot in the summer months; others opt for the tropical landscapes of Queensland.

My Aussie parents were not the outback, camping types so this Grey Nomad experience wasn’t part of their retirement. My Canadian in-laws, who faced a harsher winter climate with ice, snow, and driveway shovelling, were also content to stay put after retirement. They preferred the comforts of home, the crackle of the wood stove, and winter meals prepared with home-grown vegetables. My father-in-law loved winter landscapes, often venturing outdoors with his loyal dog to explore the snowy hills and frozen creeks near his Okanagan home.

Like my parents and in-laws, I’ve grown accustomed to staying put most winters. I enjoy witnessing the passing seasons in our valley and the outdoor activities and community events available between fall and spring. I’m less like the Canadian Geese that head south when temperatures drop and more like the Snowy Owls – content to ruffle my feathers and stick around until spring.

This winter many of Creston’s community events are up and running again due to the easing of the pandemic (fingers and toes crossed). November offers some wonderful options. The Christmas Craft Fair returns this weekend, expanded to a two-day event – the evening of Friday the 18th from 6- to 8 p.m. and Saturday the 19th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vendors will offer a wonderful array of quality, locally-produced products.

The popular fair is a great way to support local artisans and kick off the festive season. Pottery, jewellery, a book, or chocolate as a festive gift? Great idea. Something of quality made by a local entrepreneur, friend, or neighbour? Even better.

From Nov. 18 to 21, see the return of the 7th Siding Festival of Film at the Tivoli. The 41 short films and documentaries spread across four shows will showcase locally produced works – including Susap: Keeper of Knowledge, a glimpse into the life of Robert Louie Sr – and rural themed films from around the world. It’s a good opportunity for those interested in film craft.

Creston’s cultural feast continues a week later with the return of Local Colours – a Wildsight sponsored outdoor photography event at the Kootenay River Theatre. Showcasing works by five local artists and story tellers, it promises to confirm the beauty of the Kootenays and the vibrant arts scene in our valley.

Attending a fair, film, or show in Creston has the added advantage of allowing me to re-connect with locals I haven’t seen in awhile. I enjoy living in a community where audience members are perfectly comfortable waving to others across the theatre aisle, turning to chat with those in the next row or dashing from their seats to offer neighbours a brief congratulations or thank you before the lights go down. And a locally-produced wine or beer at a downtown businesses makes for a pleasant after-show discussion.

Like others, I’m excited about a winter that sees the return of pre-pandemic community events and wish those who travelled south for the darker months a happy winter and a safe journey home.

READ MORE: Valley Views: Starry Nights

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