As a Vancouverite, I loathed the onset of autumn. It meant our four annual days of sun were over and the perpetual rain would begin at any moment. It meant eight months of never really drying out; eight months of dampness that sunk to the bone. The grey skies were going to roll in and we wouldn’t see the sun again until we were all a year older. It meant premature winter doldrums, sagging shoulders and an overwhelming desire to grumble. The soundtrack of your life was the constant swish of your wiper blades, the splash of your wellies in the neverending puddles and the slippery suck of your drenched clothing peeling from your pickled body.
Autumn in the ‘Nog is a whole different story. In fact, it’s so different that fall went from my most hated season in Vancouver, to my absolute favourite in Summerland. There are so many reasons why fall is the best season here. Here are ten of them:
1. No More Tourists! – If you’ve ever caught yourself jammed in an otherwise traffic-free roundabout behind an RV the size of Prospera Place, mumbling under your breath, “Go back to Alberta!”, then you know what I mean. Sometime in early spring, the streets begin to swell with the presence of out-of-towners. They’re towing their campers and their dirt bikes, their trailers and kayaks and speed boats and they’re clogging up all our main thoroughfares like they’re being paid for it. They fill up our tranquil beaches and book all our campsites and fill all the tables at our favourite eateries. Of course, they also fill our pockets, so we’re not complaining. It’s just nice to have that end-of-the-summer break; the little window of time between the heat of summer and the chill of winter where we can enjoy our outdoor playground without the crowds.
2. Vivid sunsets – Nothing beats an autumn sunset in the valley. These celestial displays emit colours that only Mother Nature is truly capable of. There is no hexadecimal value for that shade of purple you’re witnessing out your kitchen window while you cook dinner for the fam. You’ll never truly capture it with a camera. It is fleeting and impermanent and it demands you stop what you’re doing, come back to the here-and-now and seize the vibrant moment. Then, in a minute, it’s gone forever.
3. All You Can Eat Apples – They just seem to appear this time of year. The more you eat, the more there are. Your neighbours are handing them to you. Your kids get them at school. Your customers and clients and partners are pouring them on your desk. You go to the bank, you leave with apples. You go to the pharmacy, you leave with apples. Haircut? Apples. Vet? Apples. Remember when you took your car in for an oil change and you left thinking you got away without collecting more apples? Wrong. Check your back seat. Apples. These are juicy, sweet-fleshed beauts that crack under the pressure of your teeth when you bite into them, sending glittering apple juice droplets into the air like confetti. They’re the sort of apples that could bring a tear to the eyes of people like Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck. If you were buying them in Los Angeles, you’d be paying out your ears but because you’re a Noggin in the ‘Nog and it’s autumn, they just manifest all around you faster than you could possibly consume them. Side note: if you have too many Okanagan Apples, click here for how to use them.
4. The Colours – Not just the colours of the sunsets, but the firey reds that slowly seep down from the tippy tops of our green trees. There’s also that day-glo yellow that covers the green like a brand new fall sweater. Oranges weave their way through the hills and forests and burgundies and purples and rust coloured leaves carpet our trails like they’re welcoming us to the Oscars. The colours of autumn in the Okanagan are so brilliant, you don’t really have much choice but to stop and admire them just as often as you can.
5. The Smoke Has Cleared Out – The past three years have seen smoke from all the wildfires in BC roll in sometime in August. It’s so thick and pungent that you feel like you’re being closed in by it. You feel claustrophobic and your throat gets raw. This is one of the reasons here at GOkanagan we’re going to try to build awareness for local green causes so that maybe one day we can have our Augusts back, but in the meantime, I’ll happily welcome the escape of Autumn breaking through the Smokanagan.
6. Lower Prices – That’s right, the arrival of September and a fresh new school year means the tourists have gone back to their homes in the shadow of the Saddle Dome, Science World and the CN Tower and we can have our locals prices back. Hotel rooms are cheaper, camping is cheaper, tours and attractions and everyday activities are cheaper. Our wallets are doing less wincing and we’re able to enjoy just a little bit more of what our gorgeous valley has to offer.
7. Gimme Grapes – Just like our deliciously juicy local apples, grapes appear to be seeping from every wall come September and October. This is great if you’re making wine, but it’s also great if you just want to make like a chipmunk and fill your cheeks with grapes so full you look like you’ve contracted some long-eradicated disease. Yes, autumn in the Okanagan means you can not only fill your face with grapes but your fridge, your deep freeze, your cupboards… your car if you wanted to. Maybe your pockets, though that could get messy. Maybe just stick to your fridge and your belly.
8. Socks – Summer in the Okanagan is far too hot to cover your hooves in any way, really. If you’re sporting anything other than trusty flip-flops, you’re killing your feet. You’re basically a foot murderer. If you’re a sock lover like me, you find yourself counting down the days until you can whip out your Mona Lisa socks again, or mismatch a pair of striped socks with a pair of polka-dotted ones or hike up a pair of knee-highs. When that day finally comes and you can slide your tooties into a soft pair of crews, it’s so glorious and my toes are wiggling right now at the thought of it.
9. Hoodies – Hoodies are the greatest invention since planet earth. They’re like a fabric hug and you’ve gone without that hug since the beginning of May. Sure, you could try to force your way into a hoodie sometime in August, pushing the boundaries because you miss those cozy sleeves so much, but you and I both know you’re going to sweat your face off. You just can’t do it until September but when you finally can, it’s like coming home, falling into the loving arms of a dear friend whom you’ve not seen for months.
10. The Fire ban is lifted – Nothing beats ending a busy week full of family busy-ness quite like an evening on the beach next to a crackling fire. Break out the s’mores, sip your secret wine-in-a-travel-mug and watch the kids run around on the beach while you’re mesmerized by the licking flames of a lakeside fire. When the fire ban is in effect all summer, your only alternative is one of those propane burning fire pits and they’re great and all, but they pale in comparison to a real, wood-burning fire crackling in the sand. it’s important to observe the fire ban, but as soon as it’s lifted, I just can’t wait to get out there and burn a log or two.
What are your favourite things about autumn in the Okanagan? Let me know in the comments!