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April 11, 2011

An Enchanted Love Story

When the rain is zooming in at a slant on the sliding glass door and you're sick to death of looking out at nothing but trees, grey sea and the occasional bunny, you just know you better get on the gumboots and get out and socialize before things get as ugly inside your head as they are outside. That was today, probably yesterday by the time you read this.

The first ever Salt Spring Blossom Festival was taking place over the weekend and partaking in Sunday's activities meant showing up at the Harbour House hub so off I went, wet hair straight from the shower just another indication of how far I've let things slide over the winter.

First up was Odette Graham of the newly launched Salt Spring Island FLORIST showing us the basics of Ikebana design. Odette was a florist in Vancouver. Her website will launch later this week and she'd love to find a retail space to sell from, which, on Salt Spring is,  in the language of Tai Chi, like finding a needle at the bottom of the sea.

According to Odette, Ikebana is about simplicity, and being aware of nature and the seasons to create minimalist creations with the container being a key element as well. Often parts of the plants other than the blossoms are used. This, of course, is the Idiot's explanation of Ikebana via me. I love the idea of Ikebana and the end results and Odette would like to bring an Ikebana master from Victoria to give a workshop if there is enough interest.

 Terry Bibby, Saori Weaving was on hand with her loom for the public to help create a woven banner that will be sent to the people of Sendai from Salt Spring. I wonder how long it was by the end of today?
Bibby chose pinks and green to represent spring and cherry blossoms which on a grey day just bubbled with hope as every new inch of weaving materialized.

Masa Ito, a Japanese landscape architect from the Lower Mainland (Richmond?), talked about the history of design of Japanese Gardens in a slideshow and spoke about the meanings behind each feature of a Japanese garden and how those developed out of Zen Buddhism.

There was a box of happy origami birds, popping with colour.

And then the big event, a brilliant idea that will surely blossom into a must not miss occasion. Salt Spring's  fabulous vintners and master chefs gathered in one room to offer, sometimes on a silver platter (for a mere $15) bite-sized tastings of their delectable creations. Give it a few years and this event will be a big tourist draw.

In between the talks and waiting for the food to materialize, the highlight of my day included speaking to an 80-year-old lady who has lived on the island for 20 years. We started speaking while I was flipping through a hardcover photo book showing pictures of the luxury Hastings House Country Hotel. "My husband and I celebrated our Golden wedding anniversary there," she said wistfully. I had to remind myself what Golden meant. Was it 50 or 60 years?

She went on to tell me how she was originally from Australia and she first met her husband to be, whom she had remained married to for 53 years (prior to his death a few years ago), when she was five years old and he was eight. Can you believe it?

He was the little brother of one of her girl friends. She didn't think anything of it. Not until they were teenagers.  They both ended up going to university in Sydney and kept bumping into each other over the years. After he graduated from engineering, he decided he was going to move to Tasmania. She decided that she better follow her guy and finally give in and married him. She was 21 and he was 23. "We travelled all over the world," she said. "He'd call me from some project, and he'd send me the airfare to meet him in Frankfurt or South America." She was really sad that he was no longer here at which point, envious of such a life, I had to remind her that she had her wonderful memories to sustain her in the present and I hadn't met all that many people who would describe their lives as "enhanted".

You do realize that very soon 50-year love stories will be a relic of another time as that war-time generation passes away.

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