I admit it. It was I, on the street, with my bare hands. I stole a sprig of lilac. I have resisted the larcenous urge for more than a week. But it’s been torture. Every morning I walk Waffles, my mostly Lhasa Apso, and as I round the corner at the end of our street I’ve had to edge past the fragrant blossoms. Each time, I’ve leaned in and nuzzled the blooms, the better to inhale the sweet perfume. My fingers have itched with the desire to snatch a bunch. I’ve been good until today. A Sunday of all days.
My neighbors were asleep or perhaps preparing their families for church as I was a thief in the morning. I worry that my precarious status may take a hit. I’m a newcomer. In fact at just five years in Groton, I am really still a passerby. I’m told that twenty years qualifies you as a newcomer. A century — a resident. Still, Groton is home and I look for ways to gather my life together here.
Lilacs are home to me. Growing up in Somers, Connecticut, another small rural town, there were plentiful lilacs bordering our lawn. The best, however, were the ones that grew right outside the window of the bedroom I shared with my sister. As spring gave way to summer, I would fall asleep to their dizzying rich scent. Child to teenager, with rising warmth each year, perfume. It was my Chanel5. A promise of becoming a woman.
Then, I was a woman, a wife, mother. I brought a sapling of the Somers’ lilacs to our yard to add to the billowing bushes that had been planted sometime in the 150 year history of our house in New Haven. We were awash in lilacs each spring.
An end, amicable, came to my marriage. The spring that immediately followed our separation, and my move to the other side of town, my ex-husband Tom arrived at my new home with a surprise. Knowing I would miss them, he’d cut armloads of lilacs and driven them to me. I searched the house for vases. I made outrageous bouquets, and a small vase to put on my nightstand. Heaven.
Last year I visited the Groton Nursery on a mission. The helpful staff person followed me through rows of potted plants as I leaned in close to sniff various varieties of lilac. The scent had to be right, I explained. Finally, success. Unapologetically sweet and strong. The blooms on my new lilac are still newborn fragile, like this transplant. It takes a while to produce good cuttings. Until then, I will try to resist stealing home (with my apologies to the neighbors).