Between the fading fuchsia of the redbud trees and the arrival of the violet iris, I start my lookout. My annual lilac ritual required observation for the ideal day. I waited through spring snow flurries and bouts of impatience; now it was time.
The night before I prepare. Double sided red plastic bucket. Garden gloves and clippers. Vases of assorted dimensions selected and filled with water as time would be of the essence. Alarm set for 5:45. For over a decade, I’ve known no other person to clip a branch this row of magnificence other than me.
I arrive as the sky began to lighten as I approach the lush green bushes that stretch some 15 feet long and nearly as high. Three years ago—the year of the pandemic—the lilacs were on lockdown with only a single blossoming flower within my reach. This year their abundance evokes a gasp upon the sight of the dozens of lavender clusters.
I fancy understanding lilacs—their love of sun, their hardy nature. I hope I share their propensity for long lives, as many of them live 100 years or more. They are deeply rooted in all directions in Little Italy where I grew up and Little Bohemia where I live and work now.
“You are so beautiful,” I say as I gather, occasionally burying my nose deep into the lusciousness. I stand on my tiptoes at the edge of the cliff where these lovelies live in the well-drained soil they prefer, one hand pulling down a branch that’s chock full and the other holding the clippers, hoping to make a clean cut. I lose my balance. Instantly I grab tight to the branch to avoid a roll down the hill, hearing the crack of the wood as I fall back. The broken branch is left hanging, its creamy flesh exposed. “I’m sorry,” I say, having hurt the one who spent an entire year working to bring me such joy.
The sun fully up and my trunk full of flowers, I head to the office. I fill a large sink full of cool water where I trim twigs and leaves. Before placing one stem at a time into the waiting vases, I pound their ends with a hammer so that they have more water to keep them in their final glory for a few days rather than a few hours.
It’s time for our Monday morning check-ins. The fragrance fills the lobby and lifts the mood of all the moment they enter. By Friday they will have gone by.
Rituals remind us of the gifts of the season. Of the shortness of them all. May you find yours as sweet as this one of mine.
Do you have a flower you especially love?
What are you noticing in this season?
How do you show your appreciation for the impermanence of all things?