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Walking and talking in Victoria

Although I’ve never met a plant I couldn’t kill, I am easily smitten by flowers—the bowed heads of anemones after rain, the flaring petals of tulips past their glory, the brilliant blue of a spiky camas blossom. Until this morning I didn’t know anemones from amaryllis and never even heard of camas, but I have the good fortune to be in Victoria as spring gardens come into their own, and to be walking its leafy streets with my hostess and friend, who has ensured that I don’t miss the last Easter lilies or the Monet intensity of massed bluebells seen from afar. We’ve mostly been talking about serious things: the eternal complications of family, the vulnerability of loved ones we once trusted would always be part of our world. One minute we’re pondering about some devastating illness or other. The next minute it’s “Look at those rhodos!”

Ignoramus that I am when it comes to growing things, I exclaimed at the patches of bold mustard yellow that lit up a rocky hillside this gray morning. What was that? Scottish broom, an imported bully much reviled in these parts for driving out native plants. But beautiful just the same, like that other pesky yellow flower, the dandelion. Ever since I was a pre-schooler following my mother around her garden, I’ve had a soft spot for dandelions. I loved to stroke those furry golden petals that immediately wilted when I picked the flower and stuck it in a vase. No flower seemed more exquisitely fragile to me than the hated dandelion. I even loved the fluff and the delicate tracery it made before my breath undid the design.

If this western trip has had a theme so far, it’s been the way hard, unavoidable things are shot through with moments of inspiration. Yesterday we visited an elderly relative of mine, until recently brimful of energy but now bedridden with cancer and on morphine. She remains absolutely and stoically herself—uncomplaining, spirited, interested in visitors like me and the world beyond her walls. I left feeling uplifted and faintly embarrassed by my habit of griping about aches and pains I can treat with an ice pack.

 

 

Posted by Rona

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