The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring (Tra La)


I was born in Edmonton, Alberta.  Which is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact it might be something to brag about...

But the truth is, I know very little about my birthplace.  I know it's cold, with winter temperatures regularly dipping into the -30s, and once reaching -49 with a windchill of -61 (yes, I looked that up in Wikipedia).  I know Edmonton is dark, achieving just 7.5 hours of daylight on the shortest day of the year.  And I know the days are extraordinarily long in June and July, with Canada Day fireworks starting around 11:00pm as the city collecltively holds it breath waiting for sunset.

I may have been born in Edmonton, but happily, within a few weeks of my birth, my parents freighted me south to Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was a similar sized city with a similar interest in oil, but located at a much friendlier latitude. Ironically, Oklahoma is known as the "Sooner" state, but I suspect few Oklahomans would sooner be in Edmonton...

My family soaked up seven years of Tulsa sunshine before returning to Alberta, this time to Calgary.  I had, apparently, suffered through one snowfall in Tulsa and knew nothing of sub-zero temperatures.  Allegedly, I also once burned my sensitive baby-skined butt when I was bored on a hot summer day and decided to go for a swing on our nifty heat-absorbing metal swingset.  My mother shows no sympathy in her constant retelling of this story.

To make a long story shorter, after several family moves within Alberta, I finally reached an age where I could make my own choices about where I wanted to live.  I chose warmth.  On my 18th birthday I flew to Australia, where I spent the best part of a year bronzing my skin (not such a good idea these days but back then, who knew?) and bleaching my blonde locks platinum.  Also drinking Fosters and playing cricket.

At the time, I wasn't really aware that in chosing warmth, I was also choosing cycling (over skiing), salmon (over trout), and rain (over snow).   Also, quite possibly, I was choosing photography (over engineering).  

I was teaching bridge and learning sailing while working at an Employment Centre in Perth, Australia.  Two fellow Canadians managed the Centre and they encouraged me to persue my creative instincts by attending the Universtiy of Victoria (Canada).  They assured me that it never snowed in Victoria, and that it had flowers that bloomed in February!

From my years in Canada I knew for sure that flowers don't bloom in February.  I was intrigued.

I moved to Victoria, eventually graduated from UVic with a degree in Creative Writing, and  learned that it DOES snow in Victoria, though only occassionally.  In fact, in the famous winter of 1996, Victoria broke its own record for the most snowfall in one day for any Canadian city, with a dump of about four feet of heavy, wet white stuff (I did a flip off the roof of my house just to say that I did).  I also leaned that flowers do bloom in February...

Which is, perhaps, the biggest reason I still live in Victoria.  Where else in this dark, snow-blanketed country can you wake up on a February morning, wander outside in your pajamas to pick up the newspaper, and lose yourself in the plethora of crocusses and dafodils?  Then grab your camera and capture a few images and know that your neighbours don't think it weird that you're still in your pjs...

...and not freezing to death.

In the interest of protecting my journalistic integrity (and I freely admit to taking poetic license, employing hyperbole, and generally never letting the facts ruin a good story) I should point out that this specific image was captured last year, at Butchart Gardens.

In March.

- Mike