HELEN LANG: Childhood memories come flooding back in family loss

I come to you today with a very heavy heart. My dearly loved brother Herb has died.

I come to you today with a very heavy heart. My dearly loved brother Herb has died.

He and I were such friends all our lives, from the time we were kids and walked to school together and home as well. Walking home was always a lot more fun as we used to travel by water in a deep ditch alongside the Island Highway. We each had a boat (a wood chip) and floated it down the hill that took us home.

We called the game “Simon Fraser” after that intrepid Canadian explorer who named the river after himself. It took us ages to get home as we often had to get into the ditch to get our canoe off a sand bar and later our mother couldn’t understand how we could get so muddy just walking down the road.

We also had war ships (huge logs that had floated down the Little Qualicum River many years before and been marooned on a sand bank  near the mouth of the river.

Our mother obviously didn’t realize the perils our war games presented. She was much too busy in her big vegetable garden — which was marvelous for us … no one saying, ‘Don’t!’.

Her meals were always wonderful, full of fresh vegetables. She and her dad, our grandpa, are responsible for my love of the garden.

Next to the exotic bouquet presented to me by my South African grandson-in-law, are two small vases — one of dainty pink carnations and minute purple daisies (thanks to Ingrid) and the other a lovely mixture of mauve and white cosmos (thank you, Anni). I’m spoiled and I love it.

Next time you are passing a garden centre, maybe you should have a peek to see if the bulbs are in yet. It’s getting to that time of year when we really should plan for a  spring display of bulb flowers.

Do you want pink, purple, yellow, red, orange or a mixture? It’s your garden, so let your dreams come true. Leave your wallet or purse at home. Don’t forget, the next mortgage payment comes soon. Just take a pencil and paper and, for now, just make a list.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.