Monday, 3 May 2010
Yesterday was wet, with a piercingly cold north wind driving the cherry blossom and magnolia petals off the trees and down to the pavements in sludgy, slippery deposits - a nasty reminder of the grim weather that preceded those glorious sunny weeks of April. But the day before - May Day - there was sun, and suddenly the lilacs were in full flower everywhere, and in astonishing profusion, the bushes heavy with great swags of bloom. The delicate scent of lilac is surely one of the most beautiful in nature (or humanly enhanced nature), and the more beautiful for its short life - lilac time is brief. The white flowers - more fragrant still - generally follow the more conventionally coloured, and then, after a week or so, it's over. For me, lilac is associated not with the cruellest month or the dead earth, but with a cherished memory from decades ago - of holding my daughter, then a toddler, up to smell a spray of lilac blossom overhanging a fence, seeing the lacy shadow of the flowers on her face, and knowing something very like perfect happiness.