It has taken time to adjust to being back home. I must admit that I have come to a point where I sometimes forget about what I’m missing when I’m away. Don’t get me wrong, if I was honest my heart is on the road and where it takes me is usually just what the doctor ordered. I am a self-confessed Europhile and as such if you gave me an option I would always take time spent on the continent.
I have an appreciation for the finer things but on balance I dream about them more than I enjoy them. When I am wandering a stone path in a quiet Tuscan or Provençal village I seem happiest. The warmth, sights and sounds take me to a relative state of nirvana. There is something about a very old church bell that strikes four times an hour to prompt one to acknowledge time is slipping away and one should never squander a precious commodity.
Reality doesn’t have to bite. I can’t spend all my waking moments in my happy place and just because I’m not there now doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the moment no matter where I am or what I’m doing. One of the things I like to do in the summer months when I’m home is photograph flowers. I’m by no means a macro photographer nor am I remotely understanding of flora. I don’t know many of their names in English let alone their Latin ones. It comes down to knowing what you like while trying to expand your understanding.
I am blessed to live in a place that arguably is home to one of the best and most prestigious gardens in the world. Butchart Gardens is in form and function something very special. The garden is filled with so many varieties of flowers that the mind boggles. I don’t get there very often but when I do I try to arrive much earlier than the hordes and wander in the early morning sun. It’s a quiet peaceful place in the morning where you can actually stop and reflect on whatever is in focus for as long as you need.
What’s more important really is that you don’t have to pay the price of admission for similar experiences in many of the smaller municipal parks in the area. I very much enjoy spending time in Oak Bay’s Rose Garden for instance. It’s not just the flora, it’s the solitude and moments of tranquility that are yours for free if you decide to visit.
I could be very much criticized for never writing about my surroundings when I’m home. It’s by no means limiting, boring or taxing. To be honest there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians that would crawl over miles of broken glass to live on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Postcards were invented especially for this place. The weather is mild in comparison to the other 98% of Canada. Rain is our enemy in the winter months but snow is a mythical creature and the remainder of the year is normally very pleasant. We are surrounded by water and further afield you are charmed by stunning coastal mountain vistas.
It’s really a case of trying to see the wheat for the chaff. I have a friend named Daryl who regularly writes on this platform about his experiences here. He observes the good the bad and the ugly, but he is always able to lock focus on the good. http://www.readerwriterrunner.com
I however, am usually plagued by a dissimilar approach. I am a self diagnosed critic. I visit the Louvre on a Friday evening (thanks for the tip Rick Steves) and my first stop is to look for imperfect brush strokes on the Mona Lisa (not really). I have to stop but I fear there will be limited success on that front.
My job of 27 years has taken its toll on my ability to focus on the whimsical or fantastic. I look for the unusual and the abnormal. It’s weird but that’s me. So here I am back in the garden. A place where it serves as a lesson in enjoying my environment not being sceptical of it. Perhaps the longer I spend, the greater the chance that damage done can begin to repair .