MY DEAR JOAN:
For twelve years now, and some weeks, since you were born, you have lived next door to us in Saanich, and it is hard to remember any time when you were far away; harder to realize that, at this moment, you are on the other side of the continent, picking violets, while we watch the snow fall here in Montreal, blotting out the hump of Mount Royal, covering all the statues and church steeples with white frosting. Yet we have proof of it, alas, in the box which you sent us. It was full of your violets, picked a few days ago on Vancouver Island.
The violets in the box, I am compelled to tell you, are withered, but as evidence they will serve. The violet clump under the old plum tree still thrives and flowers in December, and that is what we wanted to be sure about. You will not remember it, but the violet clump is only a happy accident. You were too small to remember anything then, and your only contribution to the garden was your habit of sowing green peas and carrots in all directions, if we were unwise enough to let you get your hands upon the spring seed packages. Well, a man named Smith gave us the violets; and, though the name is not uncommon, we have always thought of them as the Smith violets, a rare family. For you will note that they are of remarkable size, with little orange-colored eyes in the center, of a specially brilliant hue, and their scent can be detected fifty feet away. A whiff of it still lingers in them, withered as they