May 21 ~
This time of year, I bite my nails over late season frosts---not because I was arrogant enough to plant out tender crops or flowers, but because I want my beloved Lilacs to bloom.
I grew up with several lilacs in my yard, lavender and white. My grandmother had several different types of flowering shrubs that filled the yard with delicious scents, but the lilacs were the first to bloom....and they are so majestic. When we first moved to our home 32 years ago, I immediately noticed that there was a lilac bush at each corner of the house and later learned that it was a tradition in the 1800's to plant them in graveyards and around home foundations. Over the years, trees have become so large that they began shading out the lilacs--which at first, means no blooms where the shade falls...and then later just kills the plant altogehter. So, now, I am down to one large ancient lilac and 3 that I planted a few years ago. I know that when they begin to leaf out in April, it is OK to plant my peas/lettuces and that Spring is really on the way--in spite of regular, though short lived, bouts of snow. But then, when the buds begin to form, instead of the wonderful anticipation of warmer weather, I begin my daily worry of random hard freezes....a few hours of temperatures in the 20's can destroy all the blooms for a year. This never used to happen here, but over the last 10 years, has happened several times. This year, we were lucky to escape and it looks as though this is an exceptional lilac year here in New York.
My largest bush is right beside the porch, so that is my destination several times a day--to sit, relax and inhale the delight that is the scent of lilac. Have you ever made tea and then let a fresh plucked lilac flower steep in it a few minutes? DO!!! I make lilac jelly, flower essence (to encourage flexibility of thought and body---to keep one on an even keel and promote a flow of energy). I use the fresh suckers as crafting projects because they are exceptionally straight/without knots (which is also this plant's "signature" regarding its use in back health). I make a perfume spray (or room spray/linen spray) by filling a jar with distilled water and a touch of vodka and lilac blossoms. I leave them in the water for a day or so, remove them and then add fresh ones and repeat this process until the scent is to my liking. I make lilac syrup by adding equal amounts of water and sugar, boiling them for a few minutes and then steeping the lilac blossoms in the mixture while it cools. This can be refrigerated for several weeks or kept in the freezer indefinitely and poured over cake, ice cream or added to tea or coffee or lemonade. How about lilac vinegar???? Just looking at the flowers is inspirational. Each floret opens in its own time, showing some fully opena nd some still in bud.... so it reminds me of "what is" in life, but also of what "can be".
But don't get carried away!!! Don't pick all those flowers. They are meant to just be enjoyed, foremost. Lilac season is quite short...Enjoy it!!!
I had my breakfast on the porch with them this morning and now it is time to be thinking of lunch in their company. Lilacs make the entire frenzy of work that country living entails...worth every second.