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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lilacs

My childhood memories of spring are driven by lilacs.

My grandmothers were both great lovers of lilacs. They had many bushes in their yards; white, pink, and deep purple filled the eye. The heady fragrance was sometimes dizzying. I often took refuge under the heavily laden branches during a game of hide and seek. I remember the petals invading my hair and sticking to my clothes.

The scent of those flowers would fill my nose and remain with me long into the night, even as I lay tightly tucked into a den sofa bed. The smell would waft through an open window along with the chatter of crickets and tree frogs. My heavy eyelids would fight sleep as I strained to hear the Pinochle conversation coming from the dining room. I drifted off to the drone of distant political discussions interrupted by occasional bids.

One of the only photos of my paternal grandmother as a young woman is her standing in front of a giant lilac bush. She planted a new lilac every year until there was no more space to add a fragrant bush.

My maternal grandmother had an obsession for gardening. Roses were her specialty, but spring was a time for bulbs and lilacs. Her lilacs were show-pieces, big beautiful bushes so full of flowers one couldn't see the branches. I would watch and listen as she bestowed my mother with her gardening wisdom. Unknowingly, I absorbed a green thumb over the years of visits to my maternal grandparents.

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