Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Yesterday morning, I spent a happy hour or so propagating lilacs--my heirloom lilac I call Aunt Lolly. I collect root shoots on Easter Day, and coddle and nurture them all spring and summer. I made the mistake of putting a bunch of them in the same big pot, where they quietly intermingled roots in a fibrous, tangled mess all summer long. I managed to extricate and separate them and pot them up. I have a little lilac farm now, and I hope they'll be able to recover from the shock of being separated before winter. Cool weather promotes root growth. I have faith.
I always enjoy having two springs. When we go to North Dakota each June, we get to experience lilacs all over again. Ours have long finished up at home when we arrive to find them in full glory, growing in enormous hedges all over the place. You see, lilacs are native to Siberia, and North Dakota feels a lot like the Gulag to them. They thrive on those northern plains winters and brief, ecstatic summers.
It is my opinion that field trips need balance. So, if you've been out since before light in a fine misty rain and are freezing cold, there is a possibility that something other than birding wil appeal to you. It certainly appeals to me. As leader of our field trip, I took the liberty of announcing that we were making a lilac appreciation stop at this gorgeous little cemetery near Robinson. I did this, knowing full well that it might be outside the experience of many festival-goers. But it was necessary. I mean, look at these plants!
These are not just any lilacs. These are monsters.
And the air is perfumed.
We made side-by-side comparisons of the scent of lavender versus white lilacs. White lilacs have a rounder, more pungent scent that tends more heavily to musk than to the classic deep purple lilac aroma. I think of the classic lilac scent as having a floor, a low note that hits the back of the palate. White lilacs: Still divine, but lacking that floor.
The winds had whipped last year's chipping sparrow nest from the spruce boughs. We put it back.
On a sunny day, I made some more photos of these enormous lilacs.
This being a cemetery, I was drawn into thoughts of little Phyllis Jean, for whom someone still plants a flower. Her parents are doubtless gone now, but someone still remembers.