Hummingbirds pay their respects to newly opened blooms in the garden, a blur of color against the green grass. The ground-level garden is strategically planted to discourage foraging by the ubiquitous deer. Sometimes they don’t chew, sometimes they do. The signs in Salt Spring nurseries declaring a plant deer proof are to be taken with a generous grain of salt. Bumblebees trundle across the expansive deck that is furnished with large pots, anticipating a feast once new plants open more faces to the sun. There is no shortage of bees on this island, especially bumblebees, and I wonder if pervasive organic gardening is at least part of the reason. We are busy planting pots of flowers on the actually deer-proof deck – at least I am happily serving as gardener and my sister as master planner as she recovers from hip replacement surgery.
The day before, we had gathered up a bevy of potted lovelies at Thimble Nursery on the southerly side of the island, found at the end of a long, leisurely drive down a two-lane country road interspersed with farms set on rolling hills. Spring lambs in shades of cream, brown and black are a roadside delight in their pastures and I try to forget most of them will become delectable meals – island lamb is renowned for its flavor. At the nursery, a very mellow resident dog rambles up and leans against my leg with a sigh. He doesn’t move and as his warmth spreads into me, I imagine him saying, “Oh hi, I missed your leg so much.” I part company reluctantly – I could have sat down right there for a big hug.
On the way home from the nursery we stopped at a roadside stand to buy a large bag of donkey manure for 2 bucks. A deal, as cow manure at the nursery was $6. We need it to remediate the soil in the deck pots. I pop a toonie in the plastic yogurt container and heave on a bag. Nothing moves except my arm sockets. I set to dragging the bag to the car in stages, forcing my desk jockey body to obey. Once the deed is done, I am in the car, gasping and laughing with my sister, recalling days gone by when we were much more buff, able to haul around sundry items of heft.
This morning I am enjoying a cup of coffee with the last of my cherished hot-cross buns. They are among a collection of goodies that I cannot find in the U.S., including hermit cookies lush with nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, nuts and raisins; Spartan apples, rather like old-fashioned Macintosh but a bit firmer and crisper and grown here in B.C.; bread that is not loaded with salt and sugar; Eccles cakes; butter tarts and more. I make a mental note to be sure and bring home supplies to freeze as I take yet another photo of the lake’s many personalities.