Ah, silence. I am home alone. All day. Yesterday, too. What a treat! My husband and his pals are out enjoying the first rockhounding weekend of the season: May Two-Four, as it is known colloquially, or the Victoria Day holiday.
Rarely do I have a large block of time to myself. Being in “each other’s pockets” day in and day out is a mixed blessing. He enjoys my company, and I enjoy his, but not 24/7. With winter being as long as it was, you can imagine that our tempers were threadbare by the end of winter.
But I didn’t come here to grumble about matrimonial conflict. Today, it would seem, I am meant to talk about lilacs.
You see, another personal tradition related to the May 24 weekend is that this is the time when the lilacs bloom. If you live in southern Ontario, that is. Up here, the trees are barely in bud. And no, I’m not here to grumble about northern Ontario weather, either. But I cannot help but equate the long weekend with lilacs and therefore with firecracker day. A very big deal in my childhood.
This morning, social media reminded me that I once lived where it “smelled purple.” Northern lilacs are hardier, but to my nose, less fragrant than the southern varieties. Clumps of white or lavender lilac plants can be found just about anywhere up here, but they are demure, not flashy showstoppers like their southern counterparts. Maybe that’s why I have never felt compelled to take a picture of the lilacs in our yard. Not dazzling enough. Not long-blooming enough. Upstaged by the yellow ladyslipper orchids, perhaps.
And speaking of yellow showstoppers, I read Susan Rushton’s recent post about Lady Banks’ Rose. A gorgeous rambling number that can completely conceal a wall. In Arizona, a specimen of the white form has been around since 1885. Can you imagine?
In reply to my comment, Susan said, “I often think roses are a bit like pets because they have lived alongside people for centuries as plant companions, although if that were the case, this rose would be a pet elephant.”
That was when I remembered walking along a busy street in London, Ontario, and being stopped in my tracks by an ancient, gnarled lilac tree, one with an enormous girth. I stared at it, and felt compelled to respond to it, just as if it had reached out and said, “Hello, I have a message for you.”
Whenever I see a large specimen of a tree or plant, I feel that I am in the presence of a sacred being.
I still haven’t figured out what that lilac was trying to say.
I’m not sure what I’m trying to say by writing today, but let me reach out, share a slice of my life here in the north, and bid you a happy May 24 long weekend.
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