A Day To Remember
Mrs. Lloyd F. Jordan, Tumwater, Washington
It is early morning. Brilliant sunshine and sparkling water surround us. Magnificent snowy mountains etch the blue sky in every direction. The "Queen of Burnaby" crosses the Strait of Georgia, its ensign with the bright red maple leaf whipping in the breeze. A good breakfast on board, a tranquil crossing, then down to our bus and away we go onto Vancouver Island.
Everyone catches a smiling mustachioed engineer at the throttle of a quaint old engine. A train ride on a real train through the forest, over the trestle, we go through Drinkwater (pop. 20).
Our gracious host, Gerald E. Wellburn, the husband of a rhododendron member, collects trains, tracks and trees to preserve the early days, and he tells us the story of the "Forest Museum". We picnic with box lunches of delicious home cooked food prepared by the Ladies' Society of the church.
Represented on the tour were Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Vancouver, B.C., Quebec, Oregon and Washington, all seeing the Island Country through the boyhood eyes of Clive Justice, our tour guide.
We visit the colorful "homey" garden of Mrs. Shaw, and admire a yellow bloom named "Alice Street". But the rhododendron highlight of the trip R. wardii (Ludlow and Sherriff) shaped like a shallow bowl, butter yellow with a maroon spotted throat, sets Everitt Miller and David Leach wild with their close-ups. Could this be partly the "why" of the reported 175 pictures taken by Mr. Leach on that one day?
Again on our way we look down over the clear bright greens and blues of forest and water. We see wild groves of the orange-red peeling barked Arbutus menziesii (madrona) with glossy, leathery leaves, in full flower, creamy clusters of bells hanging from twisted branches. The groves of trees go marching along the bluff below the highway and above the bays and inlets.
We think of the handsome scene when the creamy flowers of this beautiful tree turn to heavy clusters of bright orange-red berries in late summer. In winter the hard leaves of this evergreen withstand the freezing weather, and birds dearly love the berries.
On we go to see Victoria through the eyes of an artist and tree fancier. In Victoria's city square, we see beauty and perfection in landscape design related to people and buildings, from the wind blown pines, to the pink and blue ground cover outside the mall on the corner. A big hand of appreciation, and Clive Justice takes a bow.
Had you thought you'd seen Butchart Gardens often enough? Go when the air is cool, the new leaves fresh, the tulips, cherries and azaleas are singing of spring, and little birds are scolding the trespassers.
Down to the ferries, aboard another larger "Queen", dining in style, a sumptuous dinner, excellent cuisine, served with elegant style. We return, threading through rocky wooded islets over glittering water as the long evening sunset gives the day that last glow of perfection. A sigh and a wish for another such day tomorrow.
Back to the Bayshore Inn, handshakes and good byes all around, and thoughts of next year's convention.