The Lilacs

By Kelly

The lilacs are blooming.

Nothing says early summer to me quite like a bush rich with amethyst blossoms. They are ubiquitous right now, strewn willy-nilly around the neighborhood, equally at home on a freeway overpass as they are in the front yard of a much-loved cottage. The air is perfumed with their innocent sweetness.

Next week, they’ll be gone. I’ve been furtively gathering small bouquets when I can – I keep clippers in my car – so I can savor the lilacs’ fleeting luxury.

But the best part about the lilacs this year is the realization that my children share this joy with me. They’ve been helping me spot neglected lilac bushes on public property, where we might stop to snag a few blossoms. They’ve buried their noses deep into the purple flowers and closed their eyes to sniff. “Mmmmm, Mom. That does smell good.” And just today, I heard my oldest daughter sigh and say, “The lilacs on that bush are already fading, Mom.”

It satisfies a longing in my heart that I didn’t even know I had until now – a longing for my children to share the sensory cues of “home” with me.

I spent most of my growing up years in Minnesota, and they were happy, carefree, innocent years. To me, home is the croaking of tree frogs on a summer’s night, the sight of sunlight sparkling on a crisp blue lake, ice skates slicing across a frozen pond, abundant green leaves changing to auburn and pumpkin and gold. It’s hockey and snow days and the fevered anticipation of spring and the joyride of summer and the State Fair and pine forests and water everywhere you look.

But since my husband and I moved to Southern California shortly after we got married, with the intent to stay in San Diego until The Big Earthquake carried us into the Pacific, I thought all those markers of home would be mine alone. I ventured that our future children would associate home with sunny days and cool nights, the sound of fighter jets roaring overhead and the smell of salt breezes off the ocean.

And while I accepted my future, I also secretly mourned the shared legacy of home. I knew that a trip back to the Midwest once a year wouldn’t be enough to put Minnesota into their DNA.

I never imagined that someday, my children would come to love the lilacs as much as I.

It is a gift as lovely and as delightful as the flower itself.

Kelly makes her home in the blogosphere at Love Well.

8 Responses to The Lilacs
  1. Jo
    June 3, 2009 | 4:01 pm

    Aww, so precious to be able to share those “sensory cues of home” with your kids! I loved growing up with seasons, and love living in the seasons now. No matter how much I complain about winter, it’s probably the harsh winter that makes me so delighted when spring and summer arrive!

  2. Mozi Esmes Mommy
    June 3, 2009 | 7:30 pm

    I love lilacs too. They just don’t last long enough! Hoping to pass that love on to my daughter, too.

  3. Liz
    June 4, 2009 | 8:06 am

    Thanks for taking me home again….
    –from a fellow-former-Minnesotan

  4. melissa
    June 9, 2009 | 11:00 am

    i can’t imagine not bringing my kids up in my hometown. there is something about sharing those unique memories to your childhood with your own kids.

  5. edj
    June 12, 2009 | 4:45 pm

    I completely understand this. For me, this was something I had to give up when I chose to raise my children in Africa. Their childhood “precious” memories include excessive heat and rolling down sand dunes. It’s okay, but I’m always really happy when one goes on about how he loves rain, since for me, “home” is the Pacific NW.

  6. edj
    June 12, 2009 | 4:45 pm

    PS I ADORE lilacs too 🙂 I was just in the US and was thrilled to spot them.

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