In the early 1970s, Melody Hessing and her husband Jay Lewis moved to Naramata, in the South Okanagan, where they built a log house by hand on a rocky bluff at the end of the road. Their "Granite Farm" was organic, with a shake roof, wood-fuelled stoves, and a composting toilet. But living with nature meant dealing with fruit-munching deer, bears with 'attitude' and rattlesnakes--and fire. In 2003, when Okanagan Mountain Park fire forced the evacuation of many homes north of Naramata, the fire blazed to the Granite Farm's fenceline.

Melody Hessing's memoir Up Chute Creek: An Okanagan Idyll, is a creative non-fiction account about making a home in a unique environment--and watching the population of the area double around them, transforming life in the Okanagan. "It turns out," she notes wryly, "this bedrock 'dig' is 'terroir', a prequel for the emergence of 'wine country'." Hessing, a sociologist who teaches winter terms at UBC, describes Up Chute Creek as a creation myth of an urban homestead -- from composting toilet to concrete pumper meltdowns, from flying squirrels to canyon wrens.

To examine the relationship between gender and environment, Melody Hessing, as a member of the Sociology and Anthropology department at Douglas College, co-wrote This Elusive Land: Women and the Canadian Environment (UBC Press, 2004), with Rebecca Raglon and Catriona Sandilands, mainly exploring the significance of women's experiences in varying landscapes. 0-7748-1107-2

The following year, with SFU's Michael Howlett and Tracy Summerville of the University of Northern British Columbia, she co-wrote Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental Policy, Second Edition (UBC Press, 2005).

Author's City: Vancouver, B.C.
Date Of Birth: 1944
Place Of Birth: Washington, D.C. U.S.A.
Arrival in BC: 1969

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Up Chute Creek: An Okanagan Idyll


Up Chute Creek: An Okanagan Idyll, Okanagan Institute, 2009; 208 pages | paperback | 6 x 9 inches | Illustrated with photographs throughout. ISBN 978-0-9810271-1-1 | Price: $20, plus $1 GST.

This Elusive Land: Women and the Canadian Environment (ed. with R. Raglon and C. Sandilands) U.B.C. Press, 2005;
Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental Policy: Political Economy and Public Policy, (ed. with M. Howlett and T. Summerville), U.B.C. Press, 2005


Biography: Ph.D., Sociology, U.B.C.
Taught Sociology 1970+
Finalist, CBC Literary Competition, Creative Non-fiction, 2008

[BCBW 2009]