Lilac Time by Tasha Halpert

Thinking about lilacs I remembered hearing a song with the words “Lilac Time” featured prominently in it. Looking it up on the Internet I found the full title Jeannine, I dream of Lilac Time, as well as an old recording of it to listen to. It brought back memories of my hearing it as a young child. What fun it was to listen again, courtesy of the Internet and whoever was kind enough to resurrect it. Seeing lilac,s like hearing the song, brings back a host of memories.

Stephen and I were driving to an appointment when I saw a lot of lilacs by the side of the road. They were so lovely I had to stop the car to look. What was even more wonderful was the fact that there were a several different varieties of lilacs in this particular collection. What I really wanted to do was get out of the car and pick some. However, I resisted the temptation and drove on before their lure grew too strong for my will power.

I have many memories involving lilacs that go back to my childhood. There was a cluster of bushes in the back yard of the home where I grew up. There was a lattice fence in the midst of them. This helped to form an enclosed space on one side where I played house. There I made mud pies using water I would scrounge from the house and berries from bushes nearby. I also mixed up other concoctions to feed my doll family.

I kept my doll sized dishes, pots and pans and other implements on shelves made from boards stuck into the branches of the lilac bushes. These usually collapsed when it was windy. For some reason that escapes me now I didn’t mind too much; I’d just pick them up and rearrange things as best I could. I even wrote recipe booklets of my efforts, though the pages became illegible when they got soaked in rain.

There were a great many different kinds of lilac bushes next door, growing at the end of my great aunt Alice’s back yard. Her father had been a horticulturalist and most likely chose the various different varieties so that they would bloom for longer as well as present different colors in display. Some were double, some had an incredibly sweet smell. All of them were lovely. I used to pick them and bring them home for my mother to put into vases.

Each year I worried that there wouldn’t be any lilacs still blooming to honor veterans on Memorial Day. My family always went to the parade in Beverly Farms where there was a square dedicated to my father’s father who died in World War One. The children who marched at the end of it used to carry lilacs to throw in the water when the parade ended at West Beach as the band played “For those who perished on the sea. Seeing the lilacs as they bloom now I greet them with joy and with gratitude for their beauty both today and in my memory.

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Text by Tasha, photo courtesy of Olga Stewart

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