WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,

I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.


Bllooming lilacs remind Whitman of the civil war because the smell represents a time of year and that time of year is imprinted with traumatic events.

People used to plant these flowers near their front and back doors for the scent and beauty. Each spring the lovely scent would waft through the house during spring cleaning. Perhaps not incidentally the livestock smells might be eclipsed by flower power.

I don’t find the poem particulalry cheering, but I too am provoked to thinking about the past and future by the smell of a lilac bush. Each time they return I think about spring and how many other people have smelled the flowers before me. The lilacs in my front yard — my door yard if you will — were planted years ago by someone who once owned my house. In the house I owned in Hadley I planted lilacs at both ends so that the next owner would get the spring boost. Hopefully she has her doors open to the breeze.

Ours have been verging on blooming for almost a week, but I really noticed the whole tree alight on the morning of mother’s day. Seems appropriate. As a dedicated blogger I chose not to gather flowers for the boss, I took pictures of my tree and sniffed it myself.

Later in the day one of our neighbors, a single mom who certainly has more on her plate than I do, showed up with a bouquet of lilacs gathered from her yard for the boss. She trumped my gift certificate for shoes.

What better flower can there be for mother’s day?