In my childhood, I have some pretty vivid memories of lilacs. These memories are actually pretty humorous, looking back, but as a kid, they kind of made me cringe. You see, I was raised with a mom who never minded going out and getting what it was she had in mind to get. Every Spring, she was on a lilac pursuit.
I think farm wives have always had a love affair with lilacs. They would take a cutting and plant it as soon as they arrived, setting down roots in their new home and giving their new surroundings the scent of familiarity. Old farmsteads always had a lilac bush, if not a lilac hedge. For such dainty beautiful flowers, the bushes were really quite large, woody and in the way. You'd have to keep it pruned or the lilacs would continue on their conquer of the world, one farmstead at a time. The beauty of the lilacs was that even long after the farm buildings had gone, the lilacs were still there.
So my mom knew some abandoned farmsteads where the traditional purple lilacs grew and even one where the white lilacs grew. We'd pick a few bouquets every spring. I would quietly wonder when we'd get arrested and she and my brother would frolic around, picking armfuls of the sweet blossoms.
One year, there was one of our usual haunts that was getting torn down for a housing development. My mom marched right in there and told them about the story of the lilac bush, and how it was the last bit of living history of the farmstead they were destroying, and that they were changing the face of rural America. All her years of protesting had served her well I guess, but if she could have tied herself to that lilac bush, I think she would have. She loves her causes, God bless her!
I could have died. I shrunk into shadows as best I could for a thirteen year old and hoped when I opened my eyes, this embarrassment was over! The construction crew told her she should have on a hard hat to be here, but pick all you want lady, 'cuz the bush is coming down tomorrow.
That was the death of yet another lilac and another legacy, and as those blooms fell to the ground, so did the the hopes and dreams of the farmstead. That farmstead would never again bloom brilliant in spring, or welcome the sounds of a barnyard, or grow food to feed our souls. But it did teach me something important that day, something that has stuck with me in the fifteen years that have passed since then.
Stand up for what you believe in and have a voice. Tell the story if they cannot tell it themselves. It might be just a lilac, but in this world today, there are far more beautiful things that deserve to be treasured and are instead torn down and destroyed. Things that need us to tell their story. Those lilacs taught me that, and every Spring when they bloom, they remind me again. Whenever I see a lilac, I stick my head into it's heady blossoms to drink of their fragrant beauty. There's nothing like it in the world!