Spring – Is Where The Flowers Are

Residents of my home city, Victoria, British Columbia,Canada, have been enjoying extended pleasures this year courtesy a Spring that sprung early with snowdrops popping up in early January. What seemed like a few days later streets lined with ornamental-blossom trees exploded providing  glorious pink or white canopies on just about every street, avenue and cul-de-sac in the city.

In late February and early March daffodils entered the beautification challenge. Tulips were quick to follow and citizens with five years or less as residents went into the annual gloat-boast with a flood of e-mailed photos to friends and relatives in Eastern Canada – or anywhere in the world where people were still digging out from the white stuff.

Many an old friendship has been sorely tested – and will continue to be tested until newly citizens remember what it was like when THEY were still shoveling snow “back East”  while weather-snobs on Southern Vancouver Islanders battled mini-whiteouts of blossom, drooled over crocus, and photographed clusters of bluebells from every angle.

Mature citizens – that’s old folk like me – long ago grew to accept our early spring joyously, gratefully, while subduing the temptation to boast that while spring is undeniably early – again – this year, it isn’t the earliest it’s ever been.

On December 17, 1925, The Daily Colonist, ran a brightly boxed story with a headline: “Snow won’t come, but snowdrops are seen in the city.” Readers will have noted that date, or should, as they read the text of the story:

“ (With) All signs of winter failing to appear, Spring seems to have taken the situation firmly in hand and has lately been busy writing trademarks all over the countryside. “Snowdrops are the latest tributes to the fair weather and are to be seen blooming profusely for while the Colonist was informed recently of blossoms appearing this month, another notice was received yesterday of snowdrops that first unsheathed their buds on November 27 in the garden of Mrs.L.L.Phillips, 400 Gorge Road (Victoria) – and are still gaily blossoming.”

It wouldn’t surprise me if even earlier “springs” have been recorded, but Novermber, 1925, is the best I’ve been able to find. I merely note that 90-years ago global warming appeared well on its way – and I don’t think automobile exhausts were causing it.

Any words of comforts for friends living “the other side of the Rockies” and still longing for the first snowdrop – or even the sight of bare earth? Not really, other than the promise not to send flowers or photos of the same. I spent three winters in Edmonton, know how weary the wait for spring can be – and understand what the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay when she wrote to a friend: “It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another – it’s one damn thing over and over again.”

As I used to think when I had to reach, again, for the snow shovel.


  1. I was pleased to read this sensitive column, Jim. I would go so far as to say that ii is mean to brag about our good fortune to folks who are still dealing with the miseries of a very long winter.

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