True to the Lilac Grove
I have loved lilacs since before I can remember. There are all sorts and varieties, allowing one to extend the lilac season from early bloomers, late bloomers, and in between bloomers. But I say the best is the old fashioned variety. Its soft luxurious scent is divine. They have bred plants for so many things, but they always seem to forget how important smell is. I even think that two of the late blooming lilacs that I have, smell a bit stinky, kind of like horse sweat.
There are the Little Kimís who stay nice and compact for me along the Lemurian Garden paths. The white and pink lilacs make such a spunky contribution to bouquets. The French Lilac looks very formal and fine, dressed as he is in his suit of the deepest most respectful purple.
But it was the old fashioned purple blossoms of the common lawn lilac, that long ago stole my heart. I have read that our grandmotherís mothers brought transplants of this adored plant here from their old homes across the sea. It is rare to find an old homestead without at least one lilac bush on the premises.
I made a pact with the lilac once. I was seventeen.
We had a few little lilacs in our yard, which we had planted, but they were not much. It was across the road, in an area surrounding a little shack of a cottage that my eyes looked and marveled. . For there almost obscuring the little house, was a lilac grove. Large tall lilacs swaying this way and that in the breeze. It was early spring when I found myself walking through this lilac grove and approaching the little cottage that intrigued me. I had heard people talking that the whole place should be condemned because it was in such a state of disrepair. But I thought that it was fixed up real pretty and cute with English ivy crowding at the windows and last years clematis vines brambling over its entrance.
I lifted my hand to knock on the amber colored door when from the recesses of the dwelling arose the long questioning meow of a cat, then a shuffle. A shuffle, which gained momentum as it seemed to approach me. I called out to introduce myself, hello? Is anyone home? I sensed a shadow move down the alley between house and shed. As my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, I saw what seemed to be a stick groping down the sandstone path, followed by the hem of a skirt. Then a form came into view. Hobbling towards me was a little lady hunched over her cane. I made her acquaintance. She seemed so odd to me. I was not sure if she was truly alive or if I touched her skin, if it would crumble, like a rose dried for a time in a drawer. She looked so fragile. In her eyes was a far away look, as if she saw things from someplace else.
She was kind to me, and I was kind to her. We got to know each other a little that spring. I loved antique flowers and she loved showing and naming all her old varieties to me. One day I found her cat killed on the road and I got a box and took him home to her. We buried him under the spread of a budding lilac bush.
She invited me back for tea the next Sunday. All week warm springtime air blew through the open windows of the school making my classmates and I restless. My eyes would drift to the window where my sprit would float out over the greening fields and to my new friends lilac bushes, now swelling with promise.
Sunday finally came, and it was blue skies and warm breezes, with bumblebees venturing out. I escaped to the lilac grove and had tea with the flowers and the Lady of the Cottage. It was late afternoon and the lady was nodding off for a nap in her wicker chair when I quietly walked among the lilac bushes, sinking my face into their blossoms. It was then that the lilacs and I made our pact. I swore to always love the lilac as my favorite, above all other flowers, if in return the lilac would each year when they bloomed return me to seventeen again.
It has not been hard through the years to keep my promise to the lilac, as they ever remain the highest among flowers to me. The lilac has kept their promise to me too. For on magical mornings of late spring when these old fashioned flowers are blooming , I sink my nose into them and I inhale the lilacs elixir. And for a spell I dwell there, and I am returned to seventeen.
The Lady of the cottage and of the lilacs died the next fall and she seemed to me to have blended into the moldy wood, which adorned her front porch steps, or to have receded gradually into the cracks and crevices of her stone sidewalk. Her relatives from the city sold the land. The cottage was demolished, the lilacs plowed down. She was gone. I remember standing and looking across the road, and wondering if it had all been a dream, my seventeenth spring.
But I know it was real. And I wonder if someday before I disappear from the earth as she did. If I will tend a lilac grove around my cottage and a young maiden of seventeen will come searching. The bees will be venturing out. The sky will be blue, with warm breezes. I will have invited her for tea, and as I nod off to dream of heaven in my old wicker chair, (as I am getting more and more prone to do lately). She will make a pact with the lilacs. Seduced by their loveliness she shall declare them her all time favorites, and they will forever, bring her spring.