Lilacs–that most nostalgic of blossoms. They bloom in alleys and in deserted farmsteads, and the bushes seem to be the most bountiful when they’ve been abandoned to the past. They’re in bloom only ten days or so, and no matter how much cutting and pounding I do of their woody stems, they last but three days on my dining room table. Each year on this blog, I talk about the birthday cake decorated with lilac blossoms, which my mother made for me in a lonely teen-aged time. And, that Fletcher’s May 18th birth coincided with the explosion of lilac blooms in northern Colorado, and how I picked them to ride with me in the car that month, as I drove between Ft. Collins and my sister’s house in Eaton. I picked the ones in this photo from the alley behind my primary care doctor’s office. A staff member comes out to your car and asks you Covid related questions, takes your temperature and makes sure your mask is in place, and then tells you she’ll be out to get you when it’s your turn. I escaped from the car long enough to break off a few bunches, and put them into my water bottle.
The dry heat wave is over. Finally, finally, clouds and moisture arrived and I can see the snow line on the mountains across the lake. We’re just west of the winter advisory zone, and, happily for late May, our precipitation will be in the form of rain. Already, Don is wailing that we won’t catch up on our deficit, but a few small puddles have accumulated and it smells heavenly out there. Making soup is always good for my psyche, and I appreciate any help I can get during this stroke recovery. Joy forwarded a great-looking recipe yesterday for artichoke-asparagus soup, which seems like a nice spring transition. The pile of books I bought to see me through my ordeal awaits me, covered in a layer of dust, as I’ve been outside looking at the water, the sunsets, and, I guess, just watching the grass grow.
There’s an old lilac bush up our road, behind an abandoned trailer-house, and I can see purple blossoms from the car as I drive down. Memorial Day is right around the corner, with the start of summer and all its energy and frenzy and happy times. I’d best take my clippers up the road and take advantage of this clandestine opportunity to bring fresh lilacs into the house, and allow their heavenly scent to bring in all those memories of such happy days to fill my home.
The Happiest Day
by Linda Pasten
It was early May, I think
a moment of lilac or dogwood
when so many promises are made
it hardly matters if a few are broken.
My mother and father still hovered
in the background, part of the scenery
like the houses I had grown up in,
and if they would be torn down later
that was something I knew
but didn’t believe. Our children were asleep
or playing, the youngest as new
as the new smell of the lilacs,
and how could I have guessed
their roots were shallow
and would be easily transplanted.
I didn’t even guess that I was happy.
The small irritations that are like salt
on melon were what I dwelt on,
though in truth they simply
made the fruit taste sweeter.
So we sat on the porch
in the cool morning, sipping
hot coffee. Behind the news of the day—
strikes and small wars, a fire somewhere—
I could see the top of your dark head
and thought not of public conflagrations
but of how it would feel on my bare shoulder.
If someone could stop the camera then…
if someone could only stop the camera
and ask me: are you happy?
Perhaps I would have noticed
how the morning shone in the reflected
color of lilac. Yes, I might have said
and offered a steaming cup of coffee.