Tuesday, May 17, 2011

don't you dare stop and smell the lilacs

No, you will not find me advocating any “stop and smell” philosophy of life. With caregiving you choose the priorities for your time.

Four lilac bushes in the yard have always been simpatico. For a couple weeks each year I’m bear-hugged by the scent of lilacs as I step out onto my patio with that morning cup of coffee.

“With every leaf a miracle … and from this bush in the door-yard,
With delicate-colour’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green
A sprig, with its flower, I break.”
        Walt Whitman—When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom’d.

I’m no Walt Whitman, snipping away with pruning shears soon indoors and outdoors are in harmony.
I’ve even impatiently transplanted two of them using my car to pull them out of the ground, transplanting lilac / vehicular gardening, and they still greet me.

According to Greek mythology, the story of lilac begins with a nymph named Syringa (lilac’s botanical name).  Pan, the god of the forests and fields, chased Syringa.  Freaked out by Pan’s unwanted affections, Syringa escaped him by turning herself into - yep, you guessed it – a lilac bush. … (Ancient botany class must have been a blast.)

Human imagination could not rest, Tchaikovsky’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ ballet would immortalize the Lilac Fairy as a heroine and demi-goddess of wisdom.

Scientifically, lilacs are in the olive family and yummy to the larvae of some butterflies and moths.

For the fans of the trivial, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew lilacs in their gardens. Lilac is the State flower of New Hampshire. Lilac wood is used for engraving, musical instruments, knife handles etc.

For the fans of symbolism, lilacs are said to stand for confidence and to symbolize pride or youthful innocence. In the Victorian language of flowers, lilacs symbolized wisdom and remembrance.

Even stuffy ol’ Harvard University is not unaffected by lilac time, allowing public picnicking one day a year in its arboretum - designated “Lilac Sunday”.

Don’t you dare stop and smell, seize the lilac not only with your senses but your imagination.
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 
web site: caregivinglyyours.com  


  1. I bet they are beautiful and I bet they do smell so nice; we don't have them here, I don't think, but I do remember them from when I lived in Pennsylvania. I think I would stop and smell them, kind of like a rose, you got to stop and smell them and admire their beauty, right?


  2. Love that heady smell of the lilac -- and thanks for all the information. I enjoy learning trivia like that.



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