Lilacs in the house

May 19, 2010


I was about five or six in my earliest memory of lilacs. We still lived on Main Street across from the library and had some large lilac bushes in the back yard along the alley. My mom cut some sprigs and brought them inside. The instant the stems hit the water in the vase, a multitude of tiny white mites abandoned blossom like it was the Titanic and scattered out across the brown kitchen table like dandruff on a black turtleneck.

Of course there are many things that I love the smell of, but here in Minneapolis, lilacs are exactly in bloom at the moment and I have one right outside my front window that makes my home smell heavenly.

I think you???d be hard pressed to find someone who found the scent of a lilac to be offensive???a natural lilac, the plant. I completely agree that soaps and lotions?? go overboard on the amount of fragrance. The smell of a plant in the wild is rarely too much. The delicate rose. The mild-mannered carnation. The industrial marigold. My love for the scent of a marigold also goes back to childhood. The house that we moved to after Main Street had a planter in front of the porch, and each summer I got to tend my marigolds, grown from seed. Pleasant memory.

So in my current place, this lilac grows in the corner between my front window and the steps up to my neighbor???s unit. Now that I???ve finally taken the winter-insulating plastic off my windows, I can once again invite in the smell of the outside world; it took about forty-five minutes for the glorious scent of lilac to permeate my entire residence. I am lucky.

This year in particular I have been infatuated with my lilac. Just Saturday, I sat outside reading for three hours in large part because the lilac smelled so good. The other large part was that it was the first day in two weeks to reach into the 70s and forsake 50 and rainy. Plus, this spring (unlike last year) has been wet enough so that all plants are happy. I???ve cut the grass twice already.

I must enjoy this opportunity that Mother Nature has given me while it lasts. I snipped a sprig to have on my desk to inspire me while I was writing. I held my breath as I immersed the end of the stem in the vase. I???m happy to report that the only mass exodus was of divine lilac scent to my nose.

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