Patrick Robinson is the CEO of Travel Underwriters (find him on Twitter: @thetravelingceo), one of Canada's largest travel insurance providers. Though he lives near the ocean in Richmond, British Columbia with his wife, daughter, and two dogs, he loves spending time in the family's lakeside cabin, sandwiched between Osoyoos, BC and the little town of Oroville, WA.
You're every small town. People become one big family walking down Main Street during our Fourth of July parades. A new stoplight is big, albeit old, news in the local paper. Last names don't need to be exchanged - there is only one Bob (he lives on Fir street) and one Annie (she, on 3rd street).
Oroville, you're like no other small town. You just have a way of bringing things together. Nestled against the border with Osoyoos, Canada, you graze the fingertips of the Sonora Desert, finishing their long reach from Mexico. Geographically you're far from the middle, but culturally, right at the center of three countries.
Oroville, you never fail to impress. Bringing three countries together is no easy feat, yet you do it without batting an eye. You charm them and then claim them as your own. Coming up on weekends and holidays, I've gotten to know your people a little, but mine a lot, at our little house by the lake. With no TV, no clock on every wall, and no mall to run off to, you bring us together. Whoever 'us' is on that particular day.
Oroville, you march to the beat of your own drum. Your rhythm seeps into my subconscious in a way that I couldn't stop if I tried. Not that I ever would. I find myself judging the time of day by the sun and my growling stomach, rather than the watch that goes straight into the dresser drawer upon my arrival.
It seems like you wait for me to wake, so we can start the day together. The water beckons, the first big decision of the day. The wind changes direction, the birds gather by the point off of Deep Bay Park, and I know it's time for lunch.
Your afternoons are open books waiting to record our adventures. You tempt us with your orchards and the apples you're so famous for, though I have a soft spot for the pears. You echo our children's laughter as they beg whoever is driving the boat to swing them around on the tube one more time, with an encore of cheering when Gramma takes a turn. Getting up on water skis is a right of passage for all the kids, and you give them all a soft, warm landing as they try, and triumphant tails of spray when they succeed.
Oroville, you're the little town that could. You never run out of things for us to do. Even those that have been done countless times before are new again each day. In the evenings we reconvene, sharing stories of the day until they eventually become one experience we've all shared with each other and inextricably, with you.
The brilliance of your days isn't dimmed by the setting of the sun as you pack your sky with a crowded jumble of stars. You tease us with the easy ones; the North Star, the Big Dipper, then challenge us with finding the Little Dipper and the constellations. You have the good sense to be in a desert, so we can count on you to not rain on us as we head out to sleep on the deck. Oroville, you don't need the water, the land, or the light; you can amaze us in your sleep!
We'll do it all over again the next day. You make it hard to distinguish one from the next, this year from the last. Bringing together the past and present, friends and family, countries and cultures, Oroville, you ask for nothing, but give so much.