Lavender, Wine and Woodchips

We just moved to a new place this month that is sort of countryish but not as much as our old place which was deep bush, and sort of urban as in it only takes five minutes to drive to one of the small Vancouver Island towns of Comox or Courtenay.  We like the relaxed feel of having other people living near but not hanging over the fence, beer in hand.

Last week I experienced the fun of trying out a couple of neighbourhood enterprises.  The first was a birthday surprise planned by my good friend, Sue, to a local Lavender farm.  Shamrock Farm lazes in the heat of the Comox peninsula, its rows of purple blooms abuzz with bees, some scampering goats working on the ingredients for the farm’s homemade soap and in the pumpkin fields, glimmers of orange ripening for Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en. Children, grannies, tourists had all appeared for the open house and were enjoying the sensory luxuries of this July day.  We crunched on lavender meringues and refreshed ourselves with lavender lemonade.  Who knew these things even existed? Certainly not the Superstore.

A couple of days later, my husband suggested that we try out the local vineyard, 40 Knots, on our way to Campbell River where he had to check on a boat (more on that later). The winery had just changed hands – new owners, Brenda and Layne have joined us from Fort St. John where the wine ripens in the store and not the field. We chose to taste the Summer flight which included everything from their signature “Spindrift Brut” (excellent!) to a pinot gris, rose and “Safe Haven,” a delicious port. Amidst the vines, under blue skies with wine rinsing our palates with a palette of subtle flavours, we could have been in the Loire or Sonoma valleys or the heat of Australia. But… and this is the great part – we were only about a mile from home.

On our way to the boat viewing, we stopped in to admire the work that had been created at the Shoreline Arts chainsaw carving contest in Campbell River. This is a sculpture gallery for the working person meaning there is no faffing about with the perfect block of marble or esoteric meanings. You take your hunk of wood and make it into something else. The surprise is that the results are so …. artistic. There were the usual eagles and sea themes, each a unique interpretation but there were a couple of unusual sculptures too: stairs to nowhere and my favourite, “Tongue Lashing,” an enormous mask that looked a bit like a Nori mask although I think it was a native design.  Amazing that there are so many people with so much carving talent who choose to go beyond the sunlight soap carving of a banana most of made back in grade one. It made me wonder what Michelangelo could have done with a chainsaw.

I had been feeling a little sorry for myself not having gone anywhere on my holiday our sailing trip having been cancelled, again. (More on that later too.) But those two wonderful days of local tourism gave me the kick in the martyr complex I needed. One just needs to wake up and smell the home-grown roses.