Here and There

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Lilacs are old fashioned. Like certain cocktails and wearing hats with little feathers and veils.

Lilacs smell shockingly purple. Like grape Bubble Yum bubble gum to a degree. I have thought long and hard about how to describe the smell, but I just can't quite nail it down. Like many things, it smells how it looks: purple, grape-y, over the top. The way the small flowers shake it all out to be this purple fountain on a branch. The way the small buds at the end of the spray of blooms look like beads.

Lilacs are soft. Like an embroidered pillow slip.

I always imagine them outside a somewhat peeling white farmhouse against a somewhat peeling white fence. Lanky grey trunks, heart shaped leaves, and the purple. Lady of the house with gloves, calling cards, walking by them to go out. Same lady, worn apron and a basket in the early morning, snipping a few for her table, for her spare room.

Lilacs are candy-sweet. Like the swags on a tall cake. Swoop, rosette, swoop. They are perfect swoops.

So sentimental. Even though they weren't mentioned I'm sure they were there amid the heliotrope and sunflowers in Mrs. Gibbs' garden in Our Town. Making Emily gasp and wonder along with the rest of it. They just have that quality.

I have two small lilac bushes. Can't really be called bushes yet. They are only about a foot and a half tall and this is only their second spring. But they'll grow, I can tell they have that enduring quality of their farmhouse ancestors.

1 comment:

julia said...

i love love LOVE lilacs--first in my grandma's back yard, smelling sweet, like her house, with all those tiny bits that make up the perfect flower. Then, in England, in HUGE big tree/bushes of lilacs, growing large and free everywhere!

They are magical, i do believe.