Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Last Days of the Lilacs

Last Days of Lilacs
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. 

Last Days of Lilacs
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."

Last Days of Lilacs
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. 

Last Days of Lilacs
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.

Last Days of Lilacs
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. 

22 comments:

  1. Lilac intoxication, seduction from backyard bushes is intensely sweet childhood memory. In the twilight, the color & fragrance so arresting, lovely and mysterious. No childhood should be without them; nor adulthood either! Thanks. Jim Duncan

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  2. I think this is a thing native to people born the same day as you! Herself loves lilacs more than nearly any other flower, and they are famously prominent in the place she was raised. She often has spoken of the difference between their scent in the early morning and after twilight.
    They are not so common here.

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    1. Creepy. I just scanned my memory for all the lilac-lovers I know, and they too have a similar birthday.

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    2. Upon reading this, there was knowing laughter from my counterpart...

      How do lilacs taste compared to nasturtium petals? I've not had the pleasure.

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  3. That lilac encrusted omelet looks amazing! Is it okay if I steal the idea for my sister's wedding brunch?

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    1. Feel free, but you might not be able to source the lilacs unless the wedding is in May. Try violets for a similar visual effect though. Oh and the dish is not an omelet but an open faced cheese crepe.

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  4. Food porn on Lovely Bike ! what are those other herbs on your window?

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  5. Trying to guess your tastes in music and movies based on your post titles has been driving me nuts for 2 years!

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  6. I'm the same with poppies - just the sight of them, not the scent, as I'm not aware of any scent if they do have it. But the sight of them growing free and wild alongside roadsides and paths in May and June just makes me happy. I'd like to bottle up the sight to gave upon the entire year. But then, as you say, that might be too much of good thing. They came early this spring and are starting to wave goodbye. I feel a blog post coming on...

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    1. Stray poppies were still popping up here in September and october last year; I think sometimes flowers get confused.

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  7. There's something about flowers and bicycles, they go together so well! Now I wish I'd taken a photo of the tree dahlias in my basket as I took them to my mother this morning.

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  8. I love lilacs, so beautiful. Alas, I believe they have wilted here. They flowered a bit late this year. There are some on the property, but my landlord never pruned them, so the blossoms get higher and higher every year. My favourite are the 'french lilacs' which are a deep rich purple. Lilacs are fallen out of popularity in gardening because they flower all too briefly, so one has better luck finding them on older properties.
    I did not know they were edible...I love the smell so much I always imagined what they would taste like.
    I can see why you gave your Mercian a lilac paint job...

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  9. If you're a Terry Pratchett fan, 25 May is Lilac Day!

    Do you plan on reviewing your Brompton bag/basket? Am curious whether it's comfortable to carry off the bike.

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    1. Good idea, I might review it. It is really one of the cheapest and simplest bags available for the Brompton, yet extremely useful. Carrying it for short distances (like when shopping) is fine, but not for walking around the city or hiking.

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  10. I grew up with lilacs right outside my bedroom window and I now have a big lilac outside my bedroom window (though they are largely past here). It is a great smell and smell carries memories. In season, I take 2A to Concord just to smell the long stretch of lilacs at the 2A and Lexington Road intersection.

    Another local bicycling smell - the Concord grapes on 225 in Carlisle, just east of the turn off to Maple Street.

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    1. Concord grapes are my favourite. There is a yard on the Cambridge/Somerville city line where they overhang into the street, begging to be eaten.

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  11. We have lilacs in Virginia. It would be sad to see them go if it weren't for the intoxicating scent of honeysuckle that takes over.

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  12. Our lilacs disappared a couple of months ago.

    Little did the vine know it was inches away from a fiery death two nights ago, along with a house.

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  13. In spring-time the yellow rape fields and its sweet taste in the air is also gorgeous. It always makes me feel good!
    Thanks for another great story. I really like reading your blog.

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  14. Who makes that handlebar tote? I love it!

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