Rossland is home. Not just the place where I was born and raised, or where family resides, or even where I live full-time. No, Rossland is a gut feeling of being where I’m supposed to be, an elastic but ever-present thread that is inextricably linked to my heart no matter where in the world I happen to be.
On the surface, the city is a postcard-perfect mountain town that owes its existence first to the gold rush and now to world-class outdoor recreation. My history with Rossland is more personal, rooted in memories of walking past black bears while climbing the steep hills to MacLean Elementary (and tobogganing back down after classes ended); of learning to ski and, perhaps more challenging, ride the the T-bar lift at Red Mountain; and of countless play dates spent biking, climbing and running around in the woods surrounding the Pinewood neighborhood.
My favourite season – then and now – is fall, when a riot of yellows, oranges and reds plays against a backdrop of evergreens. The air is crisp… the first snowflakes are less than a month away. The bears are still around, even more so than in past years as the scarcity of berries has driven them into town in search of anything to take the hunger edge off hibernation. I look out the window and remind myself never to take this place for granted – this view of the back of Red, the iconic red steeple of the United church, and the colours, always the colours.
While I would love to freeze-frame my hometown in a manner akin to my memories, change is inevitable. The ski hill has been “discovered”, while luxury condos and the skeleton of a brand-name hotel now occupy the parking lot where I learned to drive. I’ve seen other small towns transformed into corporate machines and second-home playgrounds. My hope for Rossland is that, through community spirit and love of place, local forces will successfully leverage its unique resources to drive economic prosperity while still retaining its irreplaceable local culture and character.