A note: because of how time spirals and circles and comes around again, my daughter Angelica, who now lives in Victoria, tells me almost daily about the fawn lilies, shooting stars, and camas she sees on her lunchtime walks in exactly the places I saw them as a child.
We were away in Ottawa over the Easter weekend so we didn’t walk out to Francis Point to see if the white fawn lilies were blooming, the lilies I grew up knowing as Easter lilies for their habit of coming into flower at that particular time. This year I suspect they were still tight buds in late March. It’s been a cool spring thus far. But yesterday we went to the first bay and saw masses of them on the headland.
These are Erythronium oregonum, a delicate creamy white lily with mottled leaves. I’ve loved them all my life. As a child, I used to wander Moss Rocks in the Fairfield neighbourhood of Victoria and marvel at the wildflowers there — these lilies, the magenta shooting stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum), nodding onions (Allium cernuum), and the beautiful rich blue camas (Camassia quamash). I’d come back to my house full of something I had no language for. This early introduction to such wild beauty helped to shape my sense of an ideal landscape, one both beautiful and nourishing (for the onions, and camas can be harvested and eaten, though it’s not advised to do this unless you know the protocols of ethical plant conservation). .
There should be a poem for the moment when you walk along a path under huge trees to a point overlooking Georgia Strait, Texada Island in the distance under cloud, and you see them, the white fawn lilies, their leaves shining after rain. You are the child you once were, ecstatic on the rocks, the woman who has walked to this place for more than a decade to see what’s survived the winter — and look what has, look what grows in both abundance and in solitary beauty: