Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lilac Memories

Yesterday morning, the wind was strong from the southwest across the field and through the lilacs. I flung open the windows letting it all blow in. The fragrance was intoxicating. I thought of Edna Mary, a Victorian great-auntie on my father's side. She maintained a classic Edwardian 'S' curve even beneath her usual carefree '40's, floral dresses and white butchers apron. I never saw her without thick medium taupe support stockings and black oxfords. She baked date pie that would put you into a coma, kept little blue lovebirds in a tall white wire bird cage atop a marble pastry table at the backdoor of her white kitchen. And there was a crocheted doll with picture hat - turquoise - hiding the TP in the white tiled bathroom upstairs. Lilacs. The house always smelled of lilacs. It was my great-uncle's funeral luncheon - must have been - the house was alive with people I'd heard about and seen in pictures. Old mens' voices drifted up from the parlour - tinkling silver and china from the kitchen. Buxom Auntie stood at the top stair carefully wiping her eyes. She was a sheath of tiny black pleats, high neck with a single gold bar pin clasped at her throat and flowing down her entire length, a row of tiny black buttons. She smiled at me and patted my head. Her teeth were brown from tea and the dates, too, I think. I liked her. She tucked a white linen handkerchief beneath her left cuff. "Come with me," she said, "Fanny brought sugar cookies." She smelled of lilacs.

6 comments:

Confusifying Linguification said...

Up late are we? :)

We have one lonely little lilac bush. I've already been over to sniff it, since it is too far away from the house to carry the fragrance.

Sue said...

That was beautifully written! My mother loved lilacs. They were everywhere in spring, I presume, where she grew up in Ohio. But, alas, we moved to the south when she was 36, and I was just one year old. She always said that lilacs were her favorite, and that she missed them so much. When she died we planted a lilac bush in my dad's yard in South Carolina (supposedly bred to thrive anywhere). He just told me on the phone the other day that it's blooming, but a little wimpy. How I wish that I could smell it!

Jeanne said...

Love and hugs

Richard D said...

Lilacs are among my favorites. My mother loved them too and had lilac bushes planted in strategic locations all around our house when I was young. She now lives in Florida and there are no lilacs there. So every year as spring arrives she begins asking me if the lilacs and forsythia have begun blooming. I think that in my mother's mind, those are the signs that spring has sprung.

Mental P Mama said...

What a wonderful snippet of a moment in time. I can smell them here;)

Flip Flop Floozie said...

This is a flower that I really miss here in Georgia!! We cannot grow lilacs as it does not get cold enough..When we lived in Illinois though we had them. The smell is just wonderful!!
NOPE..you cannot sew and cook too..Smile..
Sandy