September 25th, 2018

When Mandela the cat is visiting our home, Chispi the dog doesn’t mind joining me on three hour walks in the rain. He’ll even stop to smell the plum hydrangeas, beginning to crisp in the September air, if it means delaying our return by a few more minutes. The hydrangeas in Vancouver tend to be blue or purple because we have acidic soil here.

The hydrangeas at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London are a gorgeous blend of purple, blue and pink, which means the soil feeding them has aluminum sulphate and lime or gypsum. I was there last summer on London’s hottest June day in forty years, and it was too sweltering to sit exposed in the courtyard, so I took some photos and went back inside.

My mother favoured white hydrangeas. They grew in bushes around our home, and when they started to crisp she’d prune them and take them inside and arrange them in vases and baskets. There must have been at least twenty arrangements around the house. I’d have to lift them gingerly off their various plinths and shelves, taking care not to shake and detach the fragile petals as I dusted the furniture beneath.