Saturday, June 03, 2006

Lilacs



I know I've mentioned several times that my favorite season is spring. But I haven't told you my absolute most favorite thing about spring, and that is LILACS.

I love lilacs because they are so beautiful. Purple, any shade, is my favorite color. Because lilacs come in every shade of purple, I can't help but think they look gorgeous.

And I love them for what one person described as their heady, intoxicating, and addictive scent. On Mother's Day John brought me a bouquet of lilacs. Every time I went past the table where they had been given a place of honor, I inhaled deeply trying to get as much of the scent as possible.

I did a little internet research on lilacs and found out that it is a very durable and long-cherished garden plant that first found its way to the United States in the early 17th century, enduring long sea voyages. The immigrants carefully wrapped roots and shoots in moist burlap or bundled in straw. Early settlers found that lilacs thrived in the cooler parts of the US. In fact, it is the state flower of New Hampshire, representing the hardiness of the people who live there.

One article said that lilacs had been used as the flower of choice at funerals. In fact Walt Whitman wrote an entire poem about a woman using lilacs to cover her lover's grave. When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd is a rather depressing poem, but this stanza is worth quoting:
In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the white-washed palings,
Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle....and from this bush in the door-yard,
With delicate-color'd blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig, with its flower, I break.
This is a painting by Mikhail Vrubel, a Russian artist who lived from 1856-1910. I think I like my photographs of lilacs better. This picture seems dark, not bright and cheerful like the lilacs I like to enjoy. Still, he uses light in an interesting way in the foreground of the picture. Maybe this picture is kind of growing on me.
Here's a little trivia for you: Lilacs are a member of the olive family and lilac blossoms are edible. If somebody fixed me something with lilacs in it, I would sample the dish, but I'm not going to be trying any new recipees I don't think!
And, DustyPenguin, I'm so excited that your lilacs bloomed this year. I'm just disappointed that they'll probably be gone by the time we get there near the end of June.

3 comments:

Dave said...

Yes we will have the baby here. I just noticed that you are from Pennsylvania, as am I. I was raised in a suburb outside of Pittsburgh.

Dusty Penguin said...

Well, more things we find out about each other. Did you read my comment on John's "Colours" post about how I love all purple flowers, but lilacs are my favorites? I didn't know they were yours, too. We also had two huge rhododenron bushes in front, but they had to be torn out when we dug out for the foundation. We transplanted them, and one lived and has a few blossoms this spring.

Hannatu said...

I read your comments on John's post and I think that's where you said your lilacs bloomed, but I don't remember you saying they are your favorite flower.