Friday, June 14, 2024

Scent of Lilacs in the Air



Now that lilacs are in bloom
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room
And twists one in her fingers while she talks.
T.S. ELIOT


Alas, we have no bowls of lilacs in our house today. We have no lilacs blooming in our garden this year. Our lovely Korean Lilac, which struggled last spring, showed no signs of life when winter was done; we finally cut it down this week. It was a little sad, but we're grateful for all the lilacs in bloom around town. Rick and I went out for a coffee yesterday afternoon (after gardening all morning), and when we stepped outside the café, I caught the scent of lilacs on the breezes. Oh, what a delight.

Lilacs scenting the air reminds me of something I read years ago by Helen Keller. I think it was in her autobiography about a time she and her parents traveled by train from her home in the more southerly region of the US, to see a specialist about her eyes up in Boston. What caught my attention was Helen's description of how the air was so heavy with fragrance where she lived and she noticed how the scent grew less intense the further north they traveled. I was intrigued; it's true, I'd never noticed the air where I lived to be even remotely scented with the fragrance of flowers - be it lilacs, flowering apple trees, or whatever. In my experience, one always had to bend nose to petals to catch a whiff. 

Perhaps that's why the anecdote stayed with me. I tried to imagine what that must have been like for Helen. Not being able to see or hear, she could smell. How sharp her sense of smell would have been. To think of her noticing the shift in the air, enough to mention it in her writings. And for me, what a wonder to imagine places in this world where the fragrance of flowers is so intense the air is drenched with it. It's an experience foreign to me. Here in northerly Alberta where I live, we get only a few days in a year where we might catch a hint of fragrance when all the trees are blooming. I never take it for granted if I happen to catch May Days or lilacs wafting in the air on a perfect summery day.

Now I wonder what it would be like to live where the fragrance of wisteria drifts wildly on the air, or the lavender in Provence, or roses in Grasse, France. Would it be like walking into a flower shop, but on a grander scale—the air filled with the scent of roses, carnations, heliotrope, lavender, peonies, lily of the valley. Perhaps it gets overpowering. Do people get tired of all that fragrance? Maybe they do, but I hope not.

I was working in the garden yesterday, and my little four-year-old neighbour came over and asked me to pull down a branch on the large lilac tree in her family's front yard. She wanted to smell the lilacs. She then tore off a few sprigs—her mom must have shown her how to twist and pull, for she was quite the expert. She was delighted with her fistful of flowers. I mentioned that she might want to choose sprigs in full bloom rather than the ones still closed up. She took note of that, for she proceeded to identify which ones were in full bloom and described how the shape was different. Smart as whip... and cute as button!

I loved the moment. She probably won't remember it, but I think I'll carry it in my heart's eye for a long while.

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll take time to stop and smell what's scenting your corner of the world, whether lilacs, peonies, roses. Or wildflowers. And whether you catch the scent in the air or you must bend near to get a whiff. Here's to our wonderful sense of smell and all the good things our noses can enjoy on a summery day.


Wishing you a beautiful weekend,
Brenda
Photo Credit:
Image by Pixel2013 from Pixabay


Current Blog Schedule: Weekly on Fridays
(occasionally on Saturdays, if really pressed for time)


Friday, June 07, 2024

Friday Five: Unexpected Gifts




"I love how the unexpected things come to us,
such 'insignificant' things in the grand
scheme, yet such a pure-in-spirit gift."
KATHY HILLACRE


Happy Friday! We're well into June and summer is burgeoning around us. The winds are still strong and sharp, where a person isn't sure if she should leave her jacket in the closet. But we've had delightful rains, and as Kermit the Frog might say, we're feeling the green. It's so beautiful.

For today's post, I've gathered a few things that were unexpected gifts in my life, including the quote above that I just found written in my journal, and I'm pleased to say it belongs to my sister. No gift feels insignificant today even in the grand scheme of things, for they each have been pure-in-spirit gifts this week.



One. Outside my window

A single tulip blooming in our front garden this spring. Rick planted these bulbs a couple of years ago (I'd totally forgotten they were there), and this spring it came into full bloom. It stands like a queen in the garden, and I go out and gaze at it with a flutter of joy. It's like looking at brush strokes of paint with all the waves of colour from the deepest to the palest shades. There is no way my photo has done it any justice.

And to think, it has such an ordinary name on the package: "Blue Parrot". If that's blue, I'll eat my hat. Okay, if you peer closely, maybe, there's a hint of blue right in the heart of it.



Two. Reading pile from the library

I'm often late to the party when it comes to reading books that come hot off the presses. So too with Carol Shields's novel The Stone Diaries, which received awards and nominations more than thirty years ago. I finally reserved a copy at the library, after I found Penelope Lively discussing it in her wonderful book Life in the Garden. I found other books that caught my eye, and this past week I've been working my way through the pile. I've now read Carol's novel and enjoyed it, a good story with good things to ponder, which I always love when the characters have things to work out and think about - makes me ponder them too.

The Radcliffe Ladies' Reading Club by Julia Bryan Thomas is a kind of coming of age historical novel set in 1955 as young ladies come together to attend Radcliffe College, while one older woman, Alice Campbell, turns a derelict building into a bookshop of her dreams, "knowing firsthand the power of books to comfort the brokenhearted." A book club is formed and students from the college join in. I enjoyed reading this - it's not too complex a story; there are a couple of troublesome heartrending spots, but there's a hopeful ending which helps keep it in the 'comfort' reading zone.

Still waiting to be read is Dylan Thomas: portrait of the artist as a young dog  which is a volume of autobiographical stories by the modern poet, who died at age 39. Also on the not read pile is The Postman's Fiancée by award-winning author Denis Theriault sounds lovely from the description: "Twenty-two year old Tania has moved to Montreal to study, fine-tune her French and fall in love...she meets Bilodo, a shy postman who spends his days perfecting his calligraphy and writing haiku." 

Neither have I read Colm Tóibín's slim fictional volume The Testament of Mary. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is living in exile, years after her son's crucifixion. I look forward to seeing how the author writes his story about Mary.
   
  

Three. A companionable encounter at the greenhouse

I decided to visit the greenhouse today. It's high time to get the annuals in, despite the sharp winds blowing. I was looking especially for sweet pea plants. Up and down the plant-bulging aisles, I finally found them. Another woman was already hunting through the 6-paks looking for specimens that didn't look past their prime. She showed me one poor plant and seemed discouraged at its peakedness. One could see these poor things were longing to be in the ground. I found one that look promising, with fresh sprouts, and handed it to her. We then found another one for me. It was such a sweet moment, two women who both love sweet peas, heads bent, chatting even though we've never met.

We ended up being in the line up so she showed me some other beauties she found. And then on my way out of the greenhouse, I noticed a plant laying on its side in the parking lot. It was the beautiful two-tone geranium my new friend had been showing me. I caught sight of her and hurried to catch up - she hadn't noticed it falling off her cart. I said, well, this is the third time we have chatted now, I told her my name, she was Denise. Goodbyes were said, I wish I'd also asked if we could have exchanged texts.



Four. A peek at flowers I bought

I don't know if you recall the sweet old song called English Country Garden: "How many kinds of sweet flowers grow / In an English country garden." It opens by listing the many flowers that one might find in a garden. You'll find a lovely rendition of the song HERE.

Here is my list of flowers that you will soon see growing in my Canadian city garden: Sweet peas and Euphorbia, Gazanias and Zinnias, Alyssum and Beeblossom, Stocks and Evening scented stocks, Lemon Marigolds, Purple salvia and Osteospermum, Verbena - pink and purple, Bacopa - pink and white. The colour scheme was not especially forethought but it turns out it's in purples, pinks, whites, with a splash of oranges and yellow.


Image by Catceeq from Pixabay

Five. Time for lunch and flowers won't cut the mustard

I saw someone online describing a delicious sounding Irish-style sandwich. Which sounds perfect for lunch. Especially if I've been out in the garden all morning. Made with chopped hard-boiled eggs, it includes shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, thinly sliced green onions (scallions), salad cream (or mayo), salt and pepper. Mix it together and serve on your favourite sandwich bread. Cut into halves, thirds or squares.

Not having made them yet, I have no photos, but I found the above on Pixabay and I think it's close to the description. If you Google it, I'm sure recipes will float up, along with photos from every angle and greatly detailed instructions on how to make a sandwich. 😉




Before I sign off, I want to invite you over to InScribe Writers Online where I am Guest Blogging today. Our prompt was the letter "R", and I chose to write about the word 'restoration' exploring how restoration is a beautiful, hopeful thing and matters on so many levels. You'll find the post HERE.


Wishing you a wonderful weekend,
Brenda

Photo Credits for this post:
Brenda Leyland @ It's A Beautiful Life
(except for the sandwich photo above)