It’s taken me almost a week to put this post together, I never thought saying goodbye could be so hard to write about! But, delayed or not, here is my Farewell, my love letter to Cranbrook.
For the past 30 years I’ve called Cranbrook home.
Tucked in an ancient river valley and nestled between the soaring Rockies and the humble Purcell mountain ranges, I’ve been fortunate to have been raised in an area of the world that is surrounded by Mother Nature’s best. Hiking in majestic mountains and swimming in pristine lakes, racing alongside rivers, wildflowers and hills, it’s an amazing place to enjoy the outdoors.
If you’ve grown up or lived in a small town, you likely know the routine that exists. As a child a small town is great, you can ride your bike freely and chances are any park you venture to there will already be friends or family nearby. As a teenager you want to escape to the city, to something more exciting than the familiar roads and buildings and you’re too young to appreciate what exists around you. As a young adult that pride and understanding sets in and you start to recognize the benefits of life in a small town. Safety, short commutes to work, low costs of living.
I certainly experienced all of those feelings growing up among the pines and rolling hills of the Southeast Kootenays. As a little kid I loved spending endless summer days trudging through the creek water and into the trees to build forts. As a teenager all I could think of was escaping, to somewhere that I thought would understand me more, and then as a young adult I fell back in love with my hometown.
Cranbrook was where I discovered and rediscovered myself. In my early 20’s when I picked up a camera for the first “real” time, it was in the fields and forests that surrounded the sleepy town below that were my classrooms. I spent countless hours, hundreds of sunsets and rain storms teaching myself how to photograph the ideas in my head. And there, in between the wild grasses and occasional bear sightings, I found myself and not only that I learned to love myself. There’s a peacefulness that Cranbrook has, those quiet nights in the winter when the snow mutes all noise and the town is amplified by christmas lights and the soft trails of smoke leaving chimneys. I’ll miss watching the sun sleepily set behind the Purcells each night, casting it’s Alpenglow on Mt.Fisher and the Rockies to the east. Spending so much time outdoors running, cycling and taking pictures not only allowed me time and solitude to discover more about myself it also gave me a chance to become more in tune with the world around me, to anticipate and know the sun’s patterns, when the leaves would change and the flowers would start to bloom.
I found, as an adult, amazing people to connect with and work with. People that believed in me as a person first and then supported me through my photography journey even if meant that I’d eventually be leaving. In all the various community and school programs I was a part of I saw and experienced the same feeling, togetherness and pride for our small town. We live in a beautiful area of the world and in it exists a beautiful collection of artists, athletes, teachers, business owners, musicians and activists. We’re lucky to have this full house of a community lining our streets with their talents.
Cranbrook is a home town. It’s my hometown yes, but it’s town that feels like a home. It has elements of course that maybe aren’t so favoured (yes, I’m talking about the roads!) but those few complaints are overshadowed by the sense of community that is growing, the passion and love for the outdoors that exists and all those tiny quirks that make it a loveable place. The clocktower with all the wrong times, the ancient Armond Theatre sign still sitting proud near Baker St., the soft echo of the trains as they work their way through the valley. These are the things I’ll look back to and remember and smile about.
It’s a bittersweet feeling to be moving out of my home, my town. Leaving last week was a strange mix of emotions but I’m excited to step into a new chapter and experience a new hometown in England.
If you do live in Cranbrook, or even if you don’t, I challenge you and I encourage you to find those positive things in your community and celebrate them. Applaud your athletes from every level, support artists and local crafts makers. Spend your money at the stores owned by your neighbors. Go outside and look up and away from your phone, look down at the ground that makes up your home. Listen to the noise that exists may it be birds, traffic, or children playing. Find a favourite space to go and sit, enjoy the company of yourself and reflect on your home.
So long Cranbrook, you’ve been a good nest but it’s time to fly away.