Friday, February 12, 2010

Lilacs in Bloom

I have a hankerin' for some fresh lilacs. I think it started up about the time that it would have been my Grandma's birthday a couple of weeks ago. See, she and my Grandpa had a row of lilac bushes a mile long and a mile high in their yard. There must have been 8 kajillion lilac blossoms every year. Most of them were purple, although I do remember a couple of white bushes mixed in here and there.

I loved to go there, to my Grandma's house, anyway. But when the lilacs were in bloom, it was extra special. The smell of them wafted through the spring air and made my nose tingle with delight. I was the baby of the family for a good long time. My cousins were older, and all lived within close proximity of each other and were all friends and pals. I was the little fart, who showed up periodically from out of town, awkwardly trying to fit into this group of older kids, but always feeling very much like the outcast for some reason. My Grandma had a soft spot for me and likely sensed I was feeling left out, so she would always let me take a pair of scissors out to the yard and cut as many lilacs as I wanted. I would cut them for hours - piling them up in the yard much like one might do when raking leaves in the fall. HUGE piles of lilacs. Then, I would scoop them up in my arms and walk, unable to see over my treasure, to the house. Grandma would always greet with me delight! Look at all the lilacs the bleach blonde got!!! I think my Grandpa would respond with a grunt from his chair. He wasn't nearly as smitten with me as she was. That's okay - we all have our "thing". Anyway - she would set out to grab ALL the vases in the house. She had quite a few actually.

By the front door were these two curio cabinet, shelvy thingies, that were filled with all kind of vases and funny little knick knacks. My Grandma called them "old crap" - I thought they were amazing and beautiful. I especially liked this one little planter that was a leprechaun shoe or something like that. I wonder where that went? Thinking it was old crap, she likely threw it away after my Grandpa died and she sold the house. She did that with a lot of stuff. Or maybe I had it and sold it on eBay (that's a different story that I'll get to eventually). Anyway, she would round up all the vases in the house (like I already said) and we would set out to put that gihugic heap of lilac cuttings into water. The entire house would be filled with lilacs. The dining room table, the family room - every horizontal surface filled with lilacs in vases. The entire house would smell of lilac. And, she lived in a HUGE house. It could hold dozens and dozens of people very comfortably. That's how I saw it when I was little.

Years after she moved out of that house, and had passed into her eternal life, I went back - to see the house - and I was baffled at its tininess. How in the hell did all of those lilacs ever fit into that house, let alone the people and the fried chicken and the gravy? It didn't seem possible to me. Surely the new owners must have torn down part of the house.

But as I stood there, in the drive, wondering why the house had shrunk over the years, and feeling very sad for the house that once warmed all of our hearts and souls, and wondering if I'd merely imagined the house to be larger, and friendlier, and more beautiful, I again smelled the lilacs in bloom and my heart sang with joy.

My yard has two lilac bushes. They are small. They are pathetic. And they often times never bloom due to a late freeze or something that stifles their immature beauty. But I watch them every year - with great anticipation that THIS will be the year they bloom - into magnificent mile-high super blossom producing bushes that will bring joy and happiness and elation to our family and home like the magic ones my Grandma had. And when they don't, I only feel sadness for a moment, because I am immediately returned to my memories, of my Grandmother I love so dearly and those magnificent lilacs in all of their glory and for those memories - I am forever blessed and fulfilled.

(Editor's Note- GLADE Lilac scented air freshener does NOT make a good substitute- I'm just lettin' you in on that little secret now before you waste your money)


  1. I have lilacs in my yard too. Two kinds actually...One is called Asian Lilac. They grow faster and have a lot more blooms to them. They smells just as sweet and they are ruined just as fast by the same spring cold snaps..sent just to piss me off and jack me out of enjoying them for a whole nother year!! The other lilacs I have I think are called American...but I call them Grandma Lilacs because a)I too had grandmothers who both had lilacs in their yards and memories galore about them and b)cause if you plant them'll be a grandmother before they get big and beautiful and full of blooms like you remember as a child. Our grandmothers probably planted them in the yard before they ever had kids and bills and all the bullshit that keeps you for having any kind of life once they start popping out. Thus we got to enjoy them as the grandkids of time. I found by accident that tree fertizlier accidently thrown a little too far from sugar maples that will die on you anyway, even after you spent bookoo bucks trying to help them out, will actually make your lilacs grow better and bring out more blooms. Who knew??!!