To an outlander emigrating from almost anywhere else, the great bursts of spring colours in Victoria are surprising, even shocking, and eminently seductive. Having been raised in Winnipeg where spring lasts for 15 minutes between winter and the mosquito festival, having sojourned in various centres of Ontario whose proud boasts of vernal glories are frequently (and quite properly) compromised by visitations of sleet through mid-May, having struggled through the canyons of Chicago where spring is the time of blown hats and broken umbrellas in every street corner bin, I was wholly unprepared for the richness of the local scene. Even where the Gulf Stream blesses Northern Europe, I found the Yorkshire moors to be drab and the polders of Holland wet and grey under leaden skies in this season of hope.
Charmed by a twenty-foot pink Donation camellia blooming fiercely one April, I hastened to have it by purchasing my new home. Proudly at first but just diligently now, I collect a half bushel of fallen blooms every day for the whole month, every year. Gradually, Iíve noticed that each succeeding spring becomes pinker. With the passage of time, my older eyes appear to undergo a quantum strain in this season. Is it pink trauma? Pink is ubiquitous in Victoria. Strong pink, light pink, streaky pink, browned pink from stale but stubborn blossoms, nauseating pink, screaming pink.
Of the several rhododendrons in our garden, Rosamunde is the healthiest. Year by year it gains vigour; in midwinter it teases with a blossom or two, increasing momentum to a full crescendo of colour around Easter. Its lush foliage shows no sign of mildews nor the weevilling of lesser breeds. That its colour is pink would be barely bearable, but for its situation at the garden entrance beside a flourishing forsythia. Oh, the horror of pink juxtaposed with bright yellow! Visitors are polite though undoubtedly undone by a painful transit. The regular postman usually books off sick for the duration of these bloomings.
Is there no merciful prospect of relief somewhere, somehow, from this
oppressive tyranny of pink? For now, we can only shade our eyes and endure.