In his poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," Walt Whitman movingly remembers a fallen comrade. He begins, saying,
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,After several stanzas wondering how he shall mourn his fallen friend, Whitman says, "Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me." The mastering odor of the lilac holds me, too, though with much more pleasant memories.
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.
Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
lilac blossoming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.
Growing up in Quincy, we had three lilac bushes planted at three corners of our house. Every spring when we opened the windows the mastering odor of the lilac wafted through the house. For me, the scent of the lilac always recalls the beauty of spring and arrival of my favorite season.
The scent of the lilac reminds me of more peaceful and relaxing times, of simple soccer games outside, of video games and books and Legos. It reminds me of hours spent in the fields building forts and playing to be knights and kings. It reminds me of lemonade and lawn chairs, thunderstorms and family (we spent hours on the front porch watching the storms roll in across the Mississippi River). (It also makes me think of the hilarious musical, Nunsense.) In short, the scent of the lilac reminds of childhood and happiness and simple times.
This morning as I went for a walk, I thought twice I smelled the scent of lilacs, though I could not find the bushes. I know it seems early yet for lilacs, but this has been a strange winter and spring. The mastering odor of the lilac always lifts my spirit and fills me with gratitude.
What memories do lilacs bring to you?