Neither my mother nor my father were very green-thumbed. In fact, my mother once asked a cement worker who was laying part of a driveway across the street, if he would cement over our backyard. He did. She was sick of mowing the grass. There were some evergreen bushes along the north side of our property, but that was the extent of my parents’ green expression. Except for the lilac bush.
I remember when it was first planted. I was small, maybe two. It was right when we first moved into our house. My mother told me it would take seven years for it to bloom. And she was right. When I was nine the abundant flowers and heady smell first appeared. I used to sit underneath the bush and read or hide or eat a popsicle. The lilac was at the edge of the property next to our neighbor’s house, Mr. Bartley, a very rotund retired detective from the Toledo Police Department (who self-published a book about his life including a loving description of my mother) and where the very skinny retired used car salesman, Mr. Brewer, lived upstairs. From beneath the lilac bush, I could sometimes spy on the detective and the car salesman, to my great amusement.
And today, after all these years we have a lilac bush of our own. I’m not sure why I never was interested before in having a lilac bush grow in our yard. I certainly have enjoyed them on my walks in the neighborhood. And for many years, lilac was my scent of choice, especially around the time when I first met JB.
But this year there was something urging me to plant one. I will have to wait until next year for its flowers to really flourish (not seven), but somehow its presence and its scent have already made me feel more at home.