Hunting for budding and blooming flowers in the middle of winter has taken the space hunting mushrooms did in the autumn. Each one I find is a reminder of my childhood in the Pacific Northwest: Bellingham, Washington shares a remarkably similar climate to Dunedin, and I’m surprised anew with each fresh example of their similarities. I can identify a few of the more common flowers like Rhododendron, Rose, Iris, and Crocus. Others are identifiable by appearance alone: the violet, spider-like flower with the black furry spangles along the bud is an old friend from the temperate rainforest climate of Washington State.
In Britain, nearly all the trees were deciduous, appearing stark and bare against the dark grey skies in winter. A few evergreens remained, and plenty of holly and mistletoe, but other than that the natural world truly did look dead until late February/early March when, as if out of thin air, hundreds of daffodils and crocuses would bloom. For sake of comparison, there is roughly one more month of winter left in Dunedin. The Vernal Equinox south of the Equator occurs on the 21st of September. And yet, and yet, and yet – all around us, the world’s in bloom.
I’m sick in bed, having made it to work for nearly one hour before succumbing to what is either my very first migraine, or whatever nastiness is currently circulating around offices across the city. This marks my first sick day in the entire course of my five months at work, no mean feat for this former sickly child. My not-so-secret secrets: lemon and ginger honey, daily vitamins and supplements, homemade soups, and a little something called Virogone: A syrup made up of Angelica, Echinacea, Fir Needle Oil, Lemon Oil, St. Mary’s Thistle, Olive Leaf, Sage, and Thyme.
Flower hunting has helped as well, if only to lift my spirits. Moving to Southern California at the age of ten served to make me soft and sensitive when it comes to cold weather. Spotting these bits of colour here and there make me hope that perhaps Spring isn’t too far off, after all. Five weeks isn’t all that long.
(For fun, two of my favourite children’s book authors and illustrators. I loved them dearly as a small child, and I love them dearly now.)