Meet our contributor, Connie Sobchak

We have a new Friday feature on the Wellness Almanac. A regular snapshot of something wild and wonderful from Connie Sobchak. I’d be admiring her photos on Facebook for sometime, and enjoyed a review on a book about habits that she wrote for us, so I asked if she’d be interested in sharing more regularly.

So far, I’ve learned about balm of gilead, the western trillium, pussywillow, the red-breasted nuthatch, and birch polypore, and she only signed on in March!

The Almanac was always envisioned as a community forum and wiki, for locals to share their expertise, knowledge and passion. Some contribute randomly (all are welcome, if you’re so inspired, reach out to me, Lisa, via thewellnessalmanac@gmail.com). Some contribute regularly. I’m stoked that Connie Sobchak agreed to share a weekly post, and asked her to provide a bio and introdudction, now that she’s a regular, so you can get to know her.

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I was born and raised in Pemberton and grew up on the potato farm that my parents, Ruth and Elmer Hellevang, created when they moved here in 1954.  I have two older brothers, Chris, who is a heavy duty mechanic for JT Repairs in Pemberton, and Dave, who runs the farm.  I followed in my mother’s footsteps and became a teacher.  I spent ten years living around North Vancouver and Burnaby during and after university and worked as a server at Dino’s Place restaurant on Lonsdale avenue.  There, I met my husband Gary, an ironworker welder from Kamloops.  We moved to Pemberton in 1987 when I took job teaching English and French at the high school. Twenty-eight years later I retired from teaching and now spend much of my time traipsing around in the woods, running, gardening, reading and taking pictures.  I have always been inspired by nature and every day, I see something that makes me take a second look.

The following is a revised excerpt from a piece I wrote for a friend who was moving away and it kind of sums up what inspires me.

Pemberton.  I grew up here.  More exactly, Pemberton grew me.  Even if you’ve only lived here for a while, I think you’ll know some of what I mean.

Pemberton grew me all those days when I was a kid, and really could have “just fallen off the turnip cart.”  Mom and Dad would put me in a corner of the turnip wagon while they were harvesting.  I don’t think I got hit with any turnips…  Those same turnips were the ones my girlfriends and I weeded each summer.  Bikini clad and Coppertoned, we shuffled up and down the rows till noon, then hit Salmon Slough and splashed around all afternoon.  Some days we would venture down to the mouth of the creek, where it met the Lilloet, and wallow in the silt or dare ourselves to swim into its bone-buckling waters, all for the bathtub-like warmth of the creek in comparison.

The town grew me when I sat around the dining room table with my Mom, serving tea to the old ladies from Mt. Currie who had come in for a visit during their annual journey to harvest bulrush roots and cedar roots.  They mostly giggled and talked shyly to Mom while sipping their supersweet tea.

I grew when the Pemberton Meadow Mice (grades one to three) made the epic journey from the upper valley school (Copperdome Lodge) down to Signal Hill for June field day.

I grew with each convoluted bit of gossip: the cougar attack that was actually a scratch from a stray cat I rescued while riding my pony, the time I came home to hear that my parents were moving (holiday in Hawaii) the time…

Each year, come spring, I grow again with the valley. You know the time.  Think about how there comes a day, when, driving or riding up into the meadows, you feel yourself to be in a green haze, and the smell of cottonwood is sharp to your nose, and the air touches you gently.  Pemberton is growing you too, then.

Sometimes, in fall, you will get that feeling that there is a message written there in the metalgrey of the sky?  It is a prompting that remains elusive, but you should still work at discovering it.  These are signs of Pemberton, whispering to you to notice.

Of course there are the people and their stories but mostly what you will grow to be here is a result of the place: the looming mountains, the rusty and the silty waters, the redwillow ditches and the purple and white blossomed fields of potatoes, and the sight of your breath on a moonlit morning.

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