Road trips can be therapeutic. Music blaring, just loud enough to not hear yourself singing (although we all sound better in the car, don't we?), road snacks, and for me, a lot of reminiscing. I always dread the 6 hour drive home, until I get on the road and get swept up in the landscape and the memories. One of the best parts of the drive is to see the changes that have taken place since my last visit. Pine forests heavy with snow, then the bright, fresh grasses in the spring to the fields of wild flowers, orchards and vineyards laden with fruit in the summer. One of the most spectacular though, is the brilliant reds, yellows and oranges of the Fall. Harvest time. I see remnants of a pumpkin patch, the odd one left behind to return to the earth. Apples forgotten on leafless trees, perhaps once hidden from the fruitpickers, now long gone. Smoke plumes from chimneys leaves a lingering haze in the valley, a soft burnt smell in the air. It is as if the rush and excitement of summer has slipped away, and now the valley is settling into quiet slumber, storing its energy for another year. Nowhere else, than in the countryside, is the change in seasons more evident.
There are stretches of road I particularly enjoy. The Similkameen Valley is stunning, the vineyards and lush fields follow the river, meandering down the narrow valley banked by the steep mountain ranges. But my all time favorite is a stretch of fields, ranging from vibrant greens in the spring and summer to golden in the Fall, and eventually smooth white velvet in the winter. There are a couple homesteads, now abandoned, but not forgotten, surrounded by groves of poplars with their poignant white trunks. Sometimes I drive past and the vision is ordinary, but other times when the lighting is right, the snow fresh or the fields golden, I am forced to stop and breathe in the extraordinary beauty. Those are the moments to be cherished, and I wrap them up and tuck them away for another day, a gift that lasts a lifetime.