It probably wasn't what the Statler Brothers actually had in mind as they soared to Number 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and Number 1 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles charts in 1965, but around this time of year the good citizens of our town engage in what its organisers descibe as a "light-hearted" week-long activity known as The Victoria Flower Count. In short, this event involves its devotees, and multitudes of coerced school children, in "counting" (we'd call it "estimating") the number of flowers already in bloom in the gardens and parks of the region. Flowering daffodils, snowdrops, heather, and the like are carefully counted as each local municipality in the Greater Victoria region vies to be top dog in their contribution to the grand total count - amounting to 260,457,579 colourful blooms this year.
The 2011 Flower Count (FC from here on) was held from 1 to 7 March, though historically it's often been held at times ranging from late February to late March. We feel that it's O.K. to bend the rules (sorry - vary the dates) just a little if it helps in making a point - something that you may have noticed already in this blog. Apparently, the idea of the FC is to celebrate the impending demise of our long, dark and bitter three weeks, or so, of winter. Much more importantly, it gives us another chance to annoy the heck out of our friends and relatives who live elsewhere in Canada where they are still checking their calendars and looking forward to half-time in the snow-shovelling game to which they claim to be devoted.
I thought that this FC might provide some interesting data that I could sift through. It probably does, but getting hold of the numbers for past years is not as easy as you might think. I Googled everything under the sun, and eventually came up with what seem to reliable (and disturbingly exact) numbers for 1996 and 2001 to 2011. At that point I decided to get serious because the clock was ticking, so on Sunday 6 March I emailed the contact person at The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce - the primary organizing body for the FC - as follows: