05.04.16 Ah, lilacs. And this year, first time in my nearly twenty years of living in Montana, they will be fully open on my birthday. I might miss the actual premier opening gala, with our trip over to Billings, so last week-end, I drew and painted a little sprig I had placed in my back kitchen window. What a good time I had, sitting on a stool facing the window, with those beautiful green leaves backlit by morning sunshine. In all my years of affinity with lilacs, I never before noticed the leaves were in the shape of a heart. THAT is why I draw and paint and write!
I went for my annual lilac hunt yesterday afternoon. It’s always a bit of a high-wire act, looking for a bush in which to carry out an undetected theft. I’ve walked the alleys in town with clippers hidden in a bag, and, upon thinking I’m about to be caught, have ripped and ravaged the woody branches in a frenzy, quickly stuffing them into the black trash bag, then nonchalantly walking on, drenched in guilt. I never return to those same alleys, certain I’ve deformed the tree with my greed. I’ve driven country farm roads in search of old trees, left behind after houses and barns have collapsed into the ground. They are hard to find and you must be willing to drive miles and miles on dusty, rutted roads. The few times I’ve had any luck, No Trespassing or No Hunting signs were posted on falling down fences, and the solitary lilac bush seemed to be shrouded in melancholy. Some of the best lilac thefts have happened when I’ve traveled from home. Pulling off the road, I’ve snapped off a small branch and placed it in my water bottle, between the front seats, creating a lovely air freshener. And, I have that sweetest memory of being in Colorado for Fletcher’s birth fifteen years ago–my first grandchild. For several weeks that May, I would drive back and forth between Joy’s house in Ft. Collins and my sister’s house in Eaton, and always stopped to steal a lilac blossom for my morning or evening journey.
I had already scoped out the bush I went to yesterday. It’s in front of a boarded up house, near the river. There’s a neighbor across the street, but if I walk around to the back of the tall bush, no one can see me. It was a rather puny stash I brought home, with lots of dead blossoms from previous years and twisted, gnarly branches which looked deformed. Another lilac bush suffering from abandonment. But, there’s enough for the dining room table and the house instantly has that most beautiful of May scents. The snow on top the mountain peaks is melting before our very eyes in this current heat wave. The sprinklers are on daily. Alas, I am already lamenting the loss of spring.