It was two days ago. The rainbow was dipping its colorful feet in the lake, arching its way all the way from Kenna Cartwright. Intermittent rain pinched the surface of the water and though it was cold, we kept on casting lines. We have learned to fish, you see.
The boys are casting their lines and getting more eager by the minute to catch something. But they have to learn patience while fishing, and learn about baits and how to never leave behind any discarded line, no matter how small the piece.
They brought one of their bows and arrows too, so they switch between fishing and archery. We look at them and smile. There is no arguing over turns with the bow like last fall when they first got their hands on one. They’ve learned and we have too.
Since moving here a year ago we have discovered things and places and people and have gotten over many hurdles. It’s been a good year.
We took the boys hiking mild sunny slopes and also steep ones. They have learned that the gusto you start out with might dwindle as the mild slopes grow into steep trails guarded by merciless thorns. So be it, we said, we can’t give up just like that.
We didn’t, they didn’t and every time we got to the top they said “Oh, this was worth it.” It’s like that in life, I told them. If you don’t have to work for it you just don’t value it enough to not take it for granted.
We’ve all grown in the last year more than expected and that’s because a new place does that to you. It challenges you to step out of the comfort zone and not everything ends with a laurel crown at the end, but you learn nonetheless.
We have camped on a whim, just by throwing a few things in the car and stopping by a lake that seemed like the right location simply based on how the afternoon sun played on its surface.
And just like that, we hiked alongside frozen lakeshores midwinter, we skied across frozen lakes and witnessed the most amazing starry night one night after a late dinner that could’ve ended in early bedtime, but instead became a late night adventure we all remember to this day.
Our first Wells Grey Park foray was wrapped in thick rain blankets almost the whole time we were there but there’s an unmistakable sense of victory when you make a fire using soggy wood and dry up beside it. Sausages and marshmallows never tasted better.
We’ve canoed on lakes and rivers and had the boys remind us of the promise of a big canoe camping trip we mused about a few months ago. It’s a pressing matter when you’re a boy and ready for adventure.
We have built rituals. Farmer’s market on Saturdays, walks to the library and the downtown backstreets with all the colorful graffiti, pre-bedtime walks along the river shores and those few hot hikes in Peterson Creek Park that made us understand the place we’re in and love the landscape rewards it has to offer once you’ve dusted your way up on one of the hills.
The boys have favorite lakes and streets, and so do we. We have come to be in a place that we did not know and had no preconceived notions about.
Every time we leave for a few days or longer, I miss our new home. I have come to love the open green embrace of Nicola Valley as we drive home through Merritt and the long rolls of clouds that build a sky like no other.
It’s been a good year. If all we have learned can seem slightly more than ordinary to other people, then the one thing we hold high is that we have learned how being in a new place has to be a dynamic, give-some-take-some kind of experience or else you would get to taste nothing of what a place has to offer.
We’re now heading into our second year. Preparing the garden for next spring, planning for that canoe camping trip and, since we have promised, have us all camp at least one night in the backyard igloo we will build sometimes in mid-December. Because we will.
Originally published as a column in the Saturday edition of the Kamloops Daily News on August 31, 2013