One neat feature of driving long latitudinal distances in a brief time is that not only do weather patterns change, but we actually drove into different seasons. Early June in Texas is full blown summer but springtime in Montana. I lived most of my life in a northern climate where the end of May meant one great thing: lilacs!
As we drove northward in the spacious state of Montana, we began to see these wonderfully fragrant, old-fashioned bushes generously adorning yards.
Hearty lilac bushes grow taller and fuller every year, whether or not someone is pruning or tending them. They just get better and better. Driving along, we sometimes noted they were blooming in all their glory at the corner of an old, abandoned house. Shutters broken, windows cracked and garbage scattered about? The beauty of the lilac bush was not only not diminished, but seemed to be enhanced by the ruins. The purple flowers and bright green leaves fairly glowed in their loveliness and abundance. The ugliness around them seemed to shrink and fade in comparison.
When we decided to buy our home in AuSable Chasm, NY, many years ago, it was April and I decided to plant a lilac bush as soon as the house was ours. To my delight, the closing on June 3 gave us a solid, charming 50-year-old house with a HUGE lilac bush just outside the kitchen window. When I opened the window to air out the empty house in preparation for moving our stuff in, the intoxicating fragrance of the lilacs wafted in on the warm spring breezes. I smiled and inhaled deeply, my heart swelling and lifting.
Every springtime after that, for 30 years, I opened my windows and spirit to that same perfume. Lilac blossoms carelessly spilled out of vases in every room for that brief time of 2 weeks, heralding in warm weather and the true end of winter's chill.
So, when I look at these empty houses with corners adorned by the generous lilac bushes, I think of the families that planted the twigs and, like myself, gloried in the beauty and fragrance of the lilacs and rejoiced in the arrival of warmth. And then I hope that perhaps some young couple will take pity on the old relic of the house and decide to move in and bring life back into the rooms within. And, when spring arrives in earnest, they, too, will be rewarded by the splendor and magic of the ancient bush when it comes back to life! And the windows of the house and the souls who live there will rejoice with the fragrance.
The lure of the lilac drew us off the interstate (NOT a simple task, believe me!) into a rough and unpaved driveway leading to a decrepit house. We rolled down the windows and breathed deeply, triggering memories of bouquets and sprigs wrapped in foil and carried to friends and teachers lovingly. Then we decided to pick a stem and let the perfume fill the car with its wonder. Jack willingly served as a vase for a little while as we pulled back onto the highway, each smiling a little wider, thankful for the wondrous lilac.