Lilac Season

They've already peaked, I think -- the lilacs -- and I miss them already.  

Scent holds such a special ability to jog us back to other places, other times, doesn't it? For me it feels almost like a shortcut to other selves.  The smell of Molding Mud hair stuff makes me think of when my hair was short and Mark and I had just met and the summer was full of new love and possibility. Chlorine and popsicles bring me back to Molly's pool in the summer, her brown as a bear, me freckled and pink, diving and swimming until we were beyond tired.  Lilies of the valley remind me of the little street near Jodie Hoffman's house where they grew crazily, tripping over each other with their perfect little intoxicating droplet flowers...we had big dreams, Jodie and I, ready to make our millions by sewing up gifts to sell at craft bazaars.  (We made exactly two before busting her mom's sewing machine).   And lilacs make me think of riding the bus to school in the springtime, with other kids -- those lucky ones with lilac bushes in their yards! -- bringing lilac cuttings for the teachers...big gorgeous bunches, wrapped in wet paper towels and aluminum foil to keep the flowers happy until we got to St. Columba.    

Here in Utah, lilac season is short.   It starts late, probably due to our tendency for early summer snow snaps, and ends early, probably due to the super dry climate.  One year we went back to Chicago for a long visit -- well, a couple weeks -- and returned and we'd missed it.  The lilac season had come and gone without a whiff.  I lurked around the neighbors' withering bushes, deeply inhaling, hoping for lingering bit of the magic lilac smell, but it wasn't the same.  The moment had gone.  

People know of my love for lilacs, and several good hearts have planted me lilacs over the years (mostly to keep me from furtively stealing lilacs from wherever I could reach them and get away clean).  My sister Laura planted two sweet bushes outside our rental house after living with me for a summer when she was 14.  It ached me to leave them and their aromatic potential when I moved six months later.  Mark planted one up at the cabin, sheltering it with bricks to protect it from the harsh elements on the windy, dusty hillside.  Several years old now, that little-lilac-that-could is still under a foot tall.  But it's alive, which is more than we'd hoped at one point.  Now we have a spindly (but productive) one on our deck, and there's a big bushy tree outside our house in old town.  I can't help but notice that the blooms on the lower bushes seem to have gone missing more by the day.  I imagine young girls passing by, helpless to the sweet scent, helping themselves.  I am sure I'm experiencing floral karma.  

I think about why lilacs feel so special to me.  (Surely it's not just those heady busrides.)  I sense it's more about brevity and opportunity.  Each day of late spring, I find myself watching the lilac bushes.  Is today the day?  I wonder.  Are they blooming yet?  Are they fully fragrant?  Can I cut some for the house? Should I?  Does that hurt the tree or help it?  Should I wait another day?  

For a brief period I understand what my Dad and Mark and Lillian must experience as they tend to the multitude of plants under their care...there is a running awareness under the busyness of my daily tasks asking that I pay attention to what's happening in this little piece of nature.  (Ruined by a poorly planned and executed "morning glory" experiment as an 11-year-old and a number of desperate-looking houseplants in my twenties,  I have come to believe that I'm not meant to steward green things.  But perhaps this is my small shaft of light in the direction of progress.) 

So what does this all possibly have to do with music, and art, and meaning?

Maybe it's about being present and watchful for when inspiration begins to bloom. Perhaps we need to be vigilant when the sweet wafts of freshness drift into our lives, more ready than we are to take the moment and drop everything else and do it!  Cut the gorgeous ideas loose from the bunches of other bouncing ideas and bring them into our houses.  Allow them to open and change our environment and mood.  

Perhaps it's about trusting that the timing is right enough, not always waiting until a moment has passed in order to recognize its perfection.  

And, if we realize that we've missed it -- a window of opportunity or inspiration has somehow now suddenly closed on us -- maybe the lesson is to believe that there will be another chance next season.  

Maybe, like lilacs, great/beautiful/amazing ideas can be brief, intoxicating, captivating; and the bunches on our neighbors' bush can look so much more abundant and gorgeous than our own.  

Our job is to notice them, cut them when we (and they) are ready, and enjoy them for all they have to offer.  And maybe share some with the neighbors or our teachers. 


5 Things I'm Thankful For Today:
1.  That Chet and Lillian are here and Daisy's having so much fun.
2.  Beautiful pinot gris from Oregon
3.  The community of people who loved Krys so much and so well
4.  The Law and Order marathon that's been running on USA all week
5.  That the Crab Cove project is getting close! to release :-)

1 comment

  • Kendall
    Yes, they came and went all too fast. I wished that I would have picked more for the home. The house down the street has a big Lilac bush that blooms 3 distinct colors - a sight to see and one I regret not capturing. Next year indeed.

    Yes, they came and went all too fast. I wished that I would have picked more for the home. The house down the street has a big Lilac bush that blooms 3 distinct colors - a sight to see and one I regret not capturing.

    Next year indeed.

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