The Problem with Winter

Spring, summer, autumn and winter, the four seasons, right? In the temperate zone, of course. But what about the wet season and the dry season? In Vancouver or Seattle or Reykjavik, for instance, it might get colder in the winter, but the real difference is the rain, and, boy, do they get rain. Climates like that would be better served by being described tropically, with their wet and dry seasons. The same for the Okanagan/Okanogan. The only thing is, our official images, the ones that can be packaged and sold, are images of the four seasons. Spring brings saliva to the lips of romantically inclined officials at the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture. Following the idea that agriculture makes a great backdrop to a long automobile journey from the city, here’s a chart they provide of the spring blossom schedule. Note that no money flows into the hands of the men and women who put on the show. Here’s another great use of spring: to spruce up a room on the cheap. If you scroll down there, they offer this great suggestion:

Peach Blossoms in the Okanagan! Source.

Images like this come from an idea of land. They are about those parts of Europe that have been transposed here. When summer comes along, they look a little different. Like this, perhaps:

Why, You Can Play Golf on Artificial Dunes, with Artificial Grass

and artificial colours, too.  This trap for humans is from an Australian golfing site. They do seem to like mucking around with the saturation sliders on Photoshop. It doesn’t even look like it’s in the Okanagan at all. 

Images like this are from the world of advertising, in which artificial colours are designed to elicit an automatic physical response. It’s pure biology. Autumn? Ah, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, as the poet said. Skipping the English mists and pulling out the Photoshop again:

Blue Mountain Vineyard in Okanagan Falls  Source

This is one of the most innovative, location-based vineyards on the continent,   extensively using wild yeast and blending tiny micro-climatic blocks of single variety grapes to make pure varietal blends from the natural heating and cooling effects of the land to create accurate snapshots of the complete shoals here above Vaseux Lake.

I doubt we’re going to save this land until we see it first. And that’s what’s wrong with winter. The whole concept blinds us to the vital processes that are really going on …

Icewine Festival, eh Source.

This is a pretty great publicity photograph of the human mind, but it’s not one of winter or of light. Thanks to an electronic camera stretched to its limit, here’s another image from the same site:

Somebody Brought in Some Antique Baskets from Ontario, too Source.

The country is a stage.

The winter cold sinks off the plateau into the deep trough of the valley. When it strikes the lake, warmed by the summer sun, the lake lifts as fog, which falls as snow, which evaporates, which becomes fog, which falls as snow. The lake breathes and is spread across the land. Most of a year’s water falls in the dark months between October and March. Much of that moisture is recycled. Summer and winter are the wrong words to express thgis engine of heat that allows for water to move across and through the land. “Summer” and “Winter” allow us to see human stories instead. Maybe that’s not always appropriate. Here’s a vineyard, after the ice wine pickers have been through:

Vineyard in the Fog

The poor camera has still pushed the colours away from greys towards violets and blues, but it’s a little closer to sculpture and the way humans experience the earth with their bodies.

Winter is not just a break from summer and light, and not just a chance to play in the snow and tell ourselves old stories. It’s always here. Even here:

Wet Season in Bloom…

shortly after the drought equinox, with the dry season already beginning to show through.

Colour matters.

This earth is not for sale.

Tomorrow: A Tale of Two Wines


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