Submitted to The Morning Star
As visual artists are known to seek location for inspiration, so too have several authors during this Okanagan summer.
Members of the Federation of B.C. Writers looked to the outdoors and nature to ignite their creativity.
To their surprise they also found themselves delving into local agricultural industries, discovering tourist offerings, and uncovering attractive destination venues.
Besides the focus of creative writing, they are getting a closer look at how the Vernon area contributes to the local and province-wide food supply, offering unique opportunities for experiential tourism and presenting an abundance of surrounding beauty.
The loose-knit group conceived of this as a fun way to keep writing skills sharp during the lazy months of summer. To their amazement, they discovered how imaginatively productive being on location has been. The inaugural venue, a cherry orchard on a hillside, overlooked Swan Lake.
What luxury to be amongst boughs hanging with ruby-red and luscious fruit, set against the backdrop of a shimmering lake, and all of this Eden, under a soft, blue sky.
The setting brought to mind Chekhov’s stage play, The Cherry Orchard, which became the focus of my composition that day. The rough draft compared the play’s storyline to that of the present orchardists, Jeet and Harv Dukhia, who warmly welcomed us – sun hats, chairs and all – onto their land.
Next, we spent a delightful morning at Friesen’s Country Tyme Gardens in Coldstream, a sharp contrast to the orchard, in terms of surroundings.
Harvested fields, so newly ploughed, with giant sprinklers swishing in arcs to dampen and rejuvenate the soil, lay next to jet black cattle nuzzling the fence for blades of grass in a greener pasture.
Also to be seen were long-horns lounging in the shade; rose-draped white arbors effusing sweet perfume, and pathways edged in brilliant- coloured perennials, arranged just so, to please the eye.
“There we sat under the dappled cool of maples and alders, with no hesitation in putting pen, or pencil, to paper,” reported participant Gayle Moore-Morrans.
Another discovery was made: writing the old-fashioned way with a notebook.
“How different it felt to compose using the only method available to our predecessor wordsmiths. They channelling ideas and story from imagination, to the written word by pen on parchment, and later on, by pen to luxuriously smooth paper,” said participant Patch Hutchinson.
The group’s next al fresco outing will be on Okanagan Lake’s Vernon shores, to invoke water sprites, those elementals of the water, and await what impulses they deliver up.
To this venture, a delightful twist has developed. While location writing is happening here, there is an east-meets-west experience being forged in New Brunswick. On the province’s uppermost shore, a budding writers’ group is paralleling the experience.
Their endeavour commenced on Heron Island on First Nations land in the beautiful Bay of Chaleur, edging Canada’s other great ocean. One can only imagine what unique Canadian perspectives this collaboration will generate?
Along with other artists known to make a valuable contribution to keeping society culturally rich and exciting, when writers draw from local land and vistas they serve to showcase the region, create story about it and provide insights into, and understanding, of the people who live and work there.
Writers of all levels, all ages, fresh beginners, are invited to join (you do not have to belong to the Federation of B.C. Writers). Write what inspires you on Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to noon. For locations and directions, click on “contact” at www.patriciaadonahue.com.