Thursday, April 29, 2010


They're here!

We bought our condo in the fall and the development people had come in with some landscape "elements" of their own devising (aka they put in whatever they wanted).

So, after the fact I checked the plastic tags attached to the plants and had no idea whatsoever what "Syringa vulgaris" might be. Thankfully, armed with my trusty Google, I looked it up and found--much to my delight--that we had LILACS!

Lilacs are a funny thing, they only bloom for a week or two and then they're gone, but with their lovely shape and color and their strong, absolutely heavenly scent, for that one week or so it's magic.

You almost wouldn't think something with so short a period of glory would be so popular, but I guess I'm not the only one who thinks something so wonderful is worth the wait.

When I was very little, maybe 4 or 5, my friend had lilacs around the rectory where she lived and we used to pretend we were fairies, we'd pick single lilac flowers and try to sip honey out of the end. Needless to say, it never worked, but even many years later, the scent still brings me right back to that time.

I heard somewhere about old forgotten homesteads in what's now wooded areas where lilacs by the door stoop stone are one of the few signs that there was once a family living there. Don't know if it's true, but it's a lovely thought, isn't it?

For something so short lived, lilac blossom have made a big impression. Louisa May Alcott wrote a book called Under the Lilacs (I tried to read it once, but in my humble opinion, there may just be a reason it's one of her lesser know works), in the ballet Sleeping Beauty it's the Lilac Fairy that puts everyone to sleep.

And then there's Walt Whitman with lilacs as a metaphor in his poetic elegy for Lincoln
"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd"

And now I promise to get out of my poetic lilac-inspired fugue and get back to growing things. But, since I still think it's beautiful, I'll let Whitman stay in his own fugue and have the last lilacey words.

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash'd palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle -- and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color'd blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.

(flower fairy from © The Estate of Cicely Mary Barker 2008)

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