COLUMN: Plucking the last fruit of summer

Councillor Anna Purcell: "Our local orchard of culture and industry continues to flourish, with many opportunities for harvest..."

I don’t know about you, but when that smoke cleared and left us with chilly weather it felt as though summer was a mean lover who’d snuck out in the middle of the night without leaving a note.

A bit of warmth has returned (I knew you’d come crawling back, summer) but the season has definitely shifted: school’s back in session, tourists are winding their way homewards, and the city is springing back to life after a brief siesta in August when many organizations forego their monthly meetings in favour of camping and water-melon eating.

My initial dismay this season notwithstanding, I love fall. The cooler weather energizes me, wakes my mind up, and gets me going. The markets tumbling with the last ripe tomatoes, plump pumpkins and pears, the gardens gangly and outrageous, the golden slanted light, everything is a basket of gems. It’s the year’s last hurrah, agricultural mardi gras, all stops are pulled.

Fall also means bears. When we lived on the North Shore I woke up one morning to find the bums bitten off every pear on the tree; only the surprised little tops were left clinging to the branches.

This year is terrible for huckleberries. The extreme heat ripened them too early and bears can eat up to 20,000 calories a day in September to fatten up for hibernation. They’re coming to town in search of food, so let’s keep our personal orchards well picked and tidy. We don’t want any more of those beauties destroyed if we can avoid it. Pick your fruit, neighbours! Let’s manage our garbage and compost properly, and keep our barbecues spick and span!

This fall also means water shortages, believe it or not. You’ll have heard by now that we’ve moved from Level 3 to Level 4 water restrictions, despite the recent rain we’ve had — see the city website, nelson.ca, for details. (Look under “What’s New.”)

Our creeks are typically low in autumn, but this year they’re Really Low, and it will take months of wetter weather and a good snow pack before we’re really in the clear. Aside from the official restrictions, there are many things we can do as individuals to painlessly reduce our water consumption. Ever thought of getting a low-flow shower head, or faucet aerator? Now would be a perfect time.

Fall is when activity in the community, and city hall kick back into high gear. I attended the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership steering committee meeting last week and heard from several business owners that the number of visitors to Nelson was up this summer, partly due to the low Canadian dollar keeping Canadians home, and drawing Americans up.

I completed my home business and self-employment survey: 272 people participated, which is fantastic (thank you!). Those who requested a summary will be receiving it shortly.

Important council events on the horizon include the meeting of the Union of BC Municipalities in Vancouver later this month, where we meet with provincial ministers around concerns important to Nelson residents, and soak up informative workshops.

Another important upcoming event for all of us is the federal election. The City of Nelson has a friendly competition going with its neighbours to see who can get the most votes out, so grab an ambivalent friend in each hand on Oct. 19 and head down to the voting station — don’t let Fernie beat us!

Other fruit ripe for the picking around town include the current exhibits at Touchstones — one an interesting glimpse into the history of fruit farming and processing in our area and the other a series of paintings collaboratively completed by two friends over a decade, exploring Mexican culture and their experience of it. The paintings are colourful, creepy, skillfully executed and quite beautiful.

A final plum: if you’ve been paying attention to the growing refugee situation and would like to contribute, the Kootenay Refugee Coalition is holding a benefit concert, Cello and Song, on Sept. 25 at St. Saviour’s Church. Donations can also be made at Mana’eesh Middle Eastern on Baker St., or at the United Church office.

Our local orchard of culture and industry continues to flourish, with many opportunities for harvest and cultivation. Let’s continue to be good gardeners.

 

Nelson city councillor Anna Purcell shares this space with her council colleagues each week.

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