My favourite flowers are lilacs, and I've been fortunate enough to live in places where they thrive. Though the delicate clusters of four-leaf blossoms are pretty, what gets me is not their look but their scent. And the scent of lilacs is more than just nice. It is alluring, intoxicating, disorienting. It does something to me, like a drug, activating what must surely be a lilac-specific pleasure center in my brain and inducing an intense, blissful high while making me crave more. Come the month of May and the scent follows me around as I walk and cycle the streets - sharp an dewy in the morning, thick and musky in the evening, and always driving me mad. I hardly know whether to be sad or happy that the lilac season only spans a few weeks. I want them near me year round, but that might be too much of a good thing. So I content myself instead with taking some home every year from a local park and enjoying their fleeting bloom while it lasted.
This year, however, proved tricky. I've kept my eyes peeled for lilacs in the parks and forests of the Roe Valley, but the only ones I've come across have been on private property. Neither bold enough to knock on strangers' doors and ask for their flowers, not criminally-minded enough to steal them under the cover of night, for weeks I continued searching for lilacs in the wild with no result, until the mauve four-leaf blossoms began to wilt and thin. The last days of the lilacs had come, and it looked like I would miss out on gathering them this year.
So I thought on my way to an errand early this morning. My eyes still half-shut with sleep, I rolled into the courtyard and coasted right past them at first. Then I nearly slammed the brakes and backtracked. An enormous hedge, overwhelmed with fat, fluffy lilac clusters, stood right beside the house I'd come to. "Could I buy some of those from you?" I said to the man I'd come to see about a thing. "You want a bush for your garden?" "Oh no, just to put in a vase." "Ach take as many as you like, they'll only be wilting now anyway."
With a silly grin, I pedaled home with lilacs in my basket. They were past their prime now, fragile and losing petals easily on the bumpy road, releasing bursts of scent laced with hints of a pre-rot sweetness.
At home I removed the withered brown blossoms, cut the stems down and arranged the bunches in small vases around the house, filling it with the dizzying scent.
And the petals that had shed in transit did not go to waste. Did you know that lilacs are edible? Their sharp herbal taste makes for an especially nice garnish on eggy-cheesy dishes. Here's to an end of a beautiful Spring, and to Summer's impeding arrival.