Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oh, lilac tree! Oh, lilac tree!

Dearest of all the trees, to me. Steadfastly rooted, while swift years flee. Gnarled and old as lilacs be.
Lilac is one of the fragrances from my young adulthood. When I smell them, I return to a place in my heart when my sons were babies and it was spring and we lived in a small house with a giant lilac bush nearby. When I look back, I remember happiness and singing and playing.
But in reality, when I lived in that time long ago, I remember how difficult life really was. We had very little money, a beat up car, a truck that always stalled, and I remember wondering how I was ever going to have enough saved to last until the next paycheck.
But when I smell lilacs, I remember being happy.
When the boys were older, in 1st and 3rd grades, we were living in an incredible house on a horse farm in Pennsylvania. It was one of the tenant houses that the farm owner had just acquired in a real estate deal, but it was the acreage that went along with the house that was the reason for the purchase. My husband was broodmare manager, and we were given the home to live in as part of his salary. I felt as if we'd 'arrived'. We had a nice used Volvo, my husband had a good farm truck, the house had a greenhouse, two staircases, servants' quarters, fireplaces, 6 bathrooms, 6 bedrooms and the most amazing trails through woods that seemed to go on forever.
I know it sounds lovely, but in reality, it was way too big of a home. I was the one who had to keep that house clean, and I spent nearly all my free time doing so. I worked outside the home, as well, and I remember thinking how busy I always seemed to be and how hard I worked, but the house had a gigantic lilac bush. And in the spring, I would cut the blooms and bring them inside and I remember love and happiness and laughter. And children that adored me.
Wow. Where did that come from? All I did was stop by the side of the road and cut some lilacs this afternoon. And driving home in my car, smelling their heady scent, I started remembering all these things. It's not that I'm not happy right now, mind you. I just remember the happiness associated with being young and having little children. All these wonderful memories I have.
Lilacs just make me feel good. Do you have a special flower that does that for you?


dlyn said...

I love the smell of lilacs and have lots of great memories associated with them. We had a huge bush next to our house growing up, rented a few houses with lilacs in the yard, had some favorite places to walk with lots of them. And their scent means spring!

Pat - Arkansas said...

What wonderful remembrances. Thank you for sharing them with us. Although I love flowers of all sorts (except jasmine & gardenia to which I have allergic reactions), it's not the fragrance of a flower that triggers memories of my children's youth, but the bright yellow of forsythia. Where we lived, forsythia was the first thing to show bloom in the early spring. I have a few treasured b&w photos (what a shame, but I couldn't afford color film) of my toddler daughter sniffing forsythia. I remember the look of awe on her little face as she touched the tiny yellow blossoms. Thanks for the memories!

Anonymous said...

I love lilacs and don't have a single bush right now, nor do I have a magnolia tree and it's time I did something about that! Thanks for the lilac pictures.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories.

Somehow every house we rent, they never have trees. But this one has a lilac bush (or is it tree?). I love the beginning of summer when it blooms and I have the fragrant lilac coming into my living room. Too bad we are rarely in the back yard as it is like a desert without other trees for shade. Blech!

Other than that... sunflowers are my favorite and daisies second. Both were my wedding flowers. Now there are great memories there! :-P

Shimmy Mom said...

What beautiful memories. Thank you for reminding me that I need to cherish these days that I still have little ones around. I love lilacs. They are so beautiful. But the flower that brings back memories for me are Lilies. I had while Lilies in my wedding bouquet and I've planted lilies at every home we've had garden space. So lilies always bring back floods of memories for me.

Treasia Stepp said...

Lilacs is one of those flowers that bring back memories for myself as well. I talked about it one day in a blog entry and how it reminds me of my wedding.

Some other flowers with scents which evoke memories are: honeysuckle, easter lilies, and of course roses.

Little Mama said...

Oh yes! I love irises. My grandmother had hundreds of them growing in her yard when I was growing up. After some developers bought her farm, my mom and a couple of her sibling went back years later to dig up some of the bulbs. I have blessed to have some of those planted in my yard. I need to transplant them because only one is blooming this year. The rhizomes are covered up too much. Anyway, when I smell them, it brings back many happy memories of times past.

Thanks for the reminder!

Julia Lynne

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

I have a lilac bush in my backyard. I can't wait for it to bloom!

abb said...

Lovely post.

While I love all flowers, my memory makers and very favorite of all the beauties are lilacs, lily of the valley and violets. Each one conjurs up good memories and people - their scents alone can send me down memory lane.
Violets are my grandmother. She pressed violets between book pages in the Spring. All year long, when she sent me a letter (WAY before email), she'd always enclose a dried violet flower.
I was married April 1 and my dad, along with a greenhouse-owning friend of his grew 100 lily of the valley pips for my wedding bouquet. Three gardenias surrounded by 100 lily of the valley pips. It was gorgeous and smelled heavenly.
The house we're in now had an ancient French lilac bush near the front walk. It was the deepest purple I've ever seen and had the sweetest odor. A few years ago, there was a terrible mix-up and my lilac was dug up and transplanted. I cried. It finally gave up the ghost and I cried more. I still get sad thinking about my lilac. My hubby felt so bad he went a out and got 6 new lilacs....they're not my deep purple, but are certainly better than being lilacless!
Thanks for the memories, Kate!


Jen's Farmily said...

Isn't it neat how a smell can evoke feelings in you? Sometimes I'll be walking along the road and get a smell of a flower or a blooming tree and remember my childhood. Ah. I love spring.

Jen said...

I don't have a favorite scented flower, but I am thinking about planting more lilac bushes in the back yard. They just smell so heavenly and really, I like their foilage, too.

My favorite flowers are daisies. They make me so happy! I'm not even sure why. :)

Mary said...

What a lovely post! I love the smell of roses -- they remind me of my mother, who always wore Tea Rose perfume. I also love daisies -- they grew wild in the fields around our house, before development took over, and I used to pick armloads of them for my mother, who put them in vases all over the house. Thanks for the sweet memories!

Karen said...

Beautiful photos! I just love lilac trees. They don't bloom around here until June.

Jeannelle said...

Gorgeous photos! They make me wish scented photos were possible.

Lilacs and pansies are my favorites. Pansies are so darn fragile, though.

Bekah said...

I had a lilac tree outside my window in the farmhouse. I remember laying in bed at night and the scent of lilacs coming in on the breeze.

Country Girl said...

Welcome to Judy Laquidara. So glad you stopped by!
Welcome also to Julia. I hope you can get those irises straightened out. They are gorgeous flowers!

To everyone that wrote telling me of your favorite flowers, thank you for the pick-me-up today. Sometimes I think the best thing about this blog is the feedback and comments I get from you!

I loved reading all your wonderful memories involving flowers. I was sitting here at work with a huge smile on my face and have been in such a good mood all day because of all of you.

Just wanted to put that out there.

~ C.G.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Well, I hope my lilacs wait until I get home. That smell is divine. And aren't they beautiful?

I know you said they were blooming, but I think yours must be ahead of mine...

Robin at Bumblebee

Anonymous said...

Kate, what good memories your post is stirring up! I had a lilac bush under my bedroom window growing up. Lodged between two beautiful forsythia bushes. Lovely.

I keep trying to grow a lilac bush here. For 10 years. They are just stalks and never bloom. Oh, and once the boys and my dh dropped a tree on the 3 lilac bushes I had started...

I keep trying. I want one.

Anonymous said...

My favorite flower is a daisy. My favorite scented flower is a honey suckle. Such memories. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Didja ever smell the blossom of a mimosa tree? I think they smell stronger in the evening, and I'm thinking late summer is best. I believe they smell like peaches. I remember a mimosa tree in front of our house in Broomall, we moved from there when I was around five. I remember playing whisper down the lane under the tree, and having snacks there. and just lying under it and enjoying looking up at all the beautiful flowers and fern like foliage. I love that smell.

Thanks for a fun post and for one that generated so many memories that got shared.

Someone once told me that mimosa trees were just weeds. I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.

olivia said...

Oh my ... I'm overwhelmed by these beautiful photos ... the colours! The colours! :)

Lilacs remind me of my Grandma -- she had a large stand growing beside the house. Ah, I love them. :)

Country Girl said...

Oh, Charlotte, I loved that mimosa tree! I'm sure you know that next to the dogwood, mimosa was our mother's favorite? Yes, some people do think it's a weed tree. But that tree brings back so many memories. Sitting under it, with its low-hanging branches, was like having our own little fairy world to ourselves. Thank YOU for reminding ME!

And Olivia, this is a high compliment coming from such a photographer as yourself. Thank you so much. I wish you could smell these.

~ C.G.