It hit 37°C today. It’s not uncommon here in Kelowna as every summer we get at least a few days in the high 30's or low 40’s. Now, while I love it, I am still getting used to it. I only moved to Kelowna nine years ago after growing up in Alberta and Saskatchewan. I remember getting ecstatic if it ever hit 30°C growing up, while my Mom would whine and complain while we were herded down into the basement where it was ten degrees cooler. See, most people in Alberta and Saskatchewan don’t have central air conditioning because summer only occurs between July 15 (the latest in the season it’s ever snowed before) and August 22 (the earliest in the season it’s ever snowed before). Rather, they have the biggest and most rugged furnaces for their eight-month winter where temps hit MINUS 40°C with feet and feet of snow accumulating on the driveway.
Living in Kelowna I have experienced a green Christmas (first snowfall wasn’t until January 3rd – and then we got 15 inches in 12 hours that shut the city down), I’ve experienced winters where the low temperature hasn’t even been in negative double digits, and I’ve seen people wearing shorts every single day of the year as the lake doesn’t freeze… in fact, it’s an annual tradition to go swimming here in Kelowna on January 1st.
The biggest culture shock moving to Kelowna was just how active and outdoorsy everyone here was. Patios. Oh my goodness! The patios here are bigger than some restaurants back on the Prairies. It’s just expected that you’re going to sit on the patio if you go out to eat here. We talk about the beach and the lake like it’s a way of life… because it is. None of this is hardwired into me. None of this comes naturally to me. And yet, I have three kids who define, and who are the epitome of the Okanagan lifestyle.
They hate shoes. For them, it’s bare feet if possible, and if it’s not possible, I must constantly check that there are still six shoes on the six little feet in my entourage; as they will be kicked off as soon as I’m not looking.
They don’t burn. Their skin is already seasoned and accustomed to the Okanagan sun. For me, I’m wearing three layers of SPF 130 and I still look like a toasted marshmallow at the end of the day.
They don’t understand what hot and cold is yet; because it’s all relative. To my kids, our winters are terrible. Minus -12°C is game over for them, whereas I remember walking to school in -38°C because the schools don’t close until it hits -40°C. And now today, they have their noses pressed up against the window in our perfectly air-conditioned living room begging to go outside and play and I tell them, “Oh, hell no! It’s 18 degrees hotter out there then it is in here! We are going to melt!” But the nagging continues, the puppy dog eyes eventually win, I strip down to a bathing suit hoping my dad bod won’t offend my neighbours and I open the door.
A tidal wave of molten hot lava air takes my breath away as I step outside quickly closing the door behind me trying not to let too much of the hot air into my house. My boys are halfway across the yard already, when Liam stops, looks back at me and yells:
“Oh Daddy… it’s not too hot outside, it’s just summer!”
I smiled and laughed a bit, as I just got schooled by my three-year-old… again! And that’s all it took to snap me out of my daze. I remember those limited summer days growing up where I got to put my shorts on because the temperature finally made it into the 20’s. I remembered how excited I was to take a 5-hour family road trip, so we could go and swim in a lake for a few minutes. I remembered the snow on July 15… and then again on August 22. And now my kids don’t understand why I’m hesitating to enjoy summer. They’re right, it doesn’t make sense.
I live in arguably the best region of the country: The Okanagan. We are a world-class, world-renowned destination that is literally hosting tens of thousands of tourists this very moment from around the world who will be saying at the end of their week here, “Aww, do we really have to leave? It would be so nice to live here!”
AND I DO!!!