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We’ve all had a lot to deal with this summer. Heat domes, fires, smoke, Covid – there’s been no shortage of bad news stories. Yet we’ve also found good stories to share. We asked our reporters at Living Here and staff at EcoSociety to share pictures that showed how they coped this summer. What they did to try to do the normal things we do in summer when we’re not worried about the air we breathe or whether a fire is going to send us fleeing from our community. Here’s what they shared.

Reporter Sarah Lord writes: We are making the best of a smoky situation. Floating on Slocan Lake with friends, while my dog, Little, tries to find someone to throw her ball.

A friend took this photo during the very first smoky days of summer, and at that point, none of us could have imagined how bad the wildfire situation would get. That day, we were carefree. Since then, we have spent a lot of time stuck inside, not on the lake, avoiding the smoke and extreme heat. And also feeling sad about the fires. I’m happy we got out when we did during the first part of summer.

My friends and I are going out this weekend to float again, this time on the Slocan River. Smoke or clear sky; we still need to have moments of joy and connection.

Reporter Anna Dulisse shares this: When I am not writing articles for Living Here, or chasing after my 3 year old daughter, I am lucky enough to spend some of my time working as a wildlife technician. This photo of me was taken in July while I was working along a rail line east of Golden. Before a brushing crew comes in to trim any vegetation near the rail tracks, we get in there to do what’s called “nest sweeping.” The work involves physically looking in the bushes, trees and on the ground for active bird nests as well as watching and listening for breeding birds nearby who might be building nests or feeding chicks.

It is routine to show up to a job site just after dawn when birds are most active, but because birds don’t sit on their nests when the temperatures are too hot, finding them can be challenging when it is already 20 degrees by 9 a.m. This year that meant calling it a day hours earlier than we’ve had to in a normal year. This is one small example of how animals are changing their behaviours in response to climate change.

Photo by Dan Wall, Living Here editor. I worked my way through university fighting forest fires, then tagged on few more years just for the fun of it, so the rumble of air tankers and the organized chaos of a fire centre was ingrained in my summer psyche. I worked ground crews, heli-attack crews, flew fire patrols, and even got to ride in the bird dog plane once (that’s the fast plane that guides the tankers on their drops). Stopping by the Southeast Fire Centre in Castlegar to grab a few photos, this time from the other side of the fence, brought a tinge of nostalgia for me.

Reporter Meredith Macdonald tells us: This summer I visited the Nikkei Memorial Internment Centre in New Denver and went through the display house where the Japanese Canadians lived during the Second World War. It was a contemplative experience.

On the way back, I saw a deer on the side of the road. I don’t take pictures very often, but it was exciting to see a deer at arm’s reach, because I’ve lived in the city for most of my life.

I travelled to Vancouver for a week in July. When I flew back, the plane flew to Castlegar and couldn’t land because of the smoke from the wildfires. It flew back to Vancouver, landed andsome people got off. Then it flew back to Castlegar, although the pilot said it may not land again. When it did land – the people on the plane cheered. Next time, I’ll consider the wildfires, and the smoky skies, before I consider flying.

Reporter Anna Dulisse writes: Before the heat wave and the smoky skies arrived this summer, my family and I were lucky enough to get in a lot of camping in the spring. Then when the oppressive July weather decided to settle in for good, it meant getting creative and bringing our own board games to play at our favourite Nelson cafes.

Reporter Alan Ross tells us: This is a picture of my bath stand and swimming partner. In past years, the water in Arrow Lake stayed chilly even in July and August, but summer 2021 hasn’t been like past years. Smoke, drought and heat waves rolling in week after week have brought uncomfortable, even scary conditions. The good news is that the lake warmed up in June and has stayed warm all summer. I substituted a daily lake swim for my regular shower. My swimming partner is Lexy, a Great Pyrenees. She’s not much of a swimmer but she loves to wade up to her chest and cool off. I guess we’re pretty similar!

Reporter Sarah Lord wraps up with: During the hottest days in early July, I was with friends at one of my favourite spots on Slocan Lake. We watched as a rainstorm slowly moved in from the north end of the lake. When it arrived in full force to where we were, my friend and I jumped in the lake to enjoy the torrential rainfall from the water. She took this picture with her waterproof camera. I felt a real sense of relief and gratitude that I live somewhere with fresh, clean water.

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