Lilacs and Hurricanes


In the door-yard fronting the old farm-house, near the white-wash' palings,

Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-dhaped leaves of rich green,

With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love,

With every leaf a miracle......and from this bush in the door-yard,

With delicate-color’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,

A sprig, with its flower, I break.

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman


It was when I saw a young boy on his skateboard the other morning, his hair highlighted golden in the late summer’s sun, that it occurred to me. Our lilacs, the bushes I had ruthlessly pruned last May, hadn’t bloomed this spring. Or maybe I just hadn’t noticed them. Was that possible?

Lilacs edged the backyard of the house where I grew up. They were spectacular in their haphazardly fullness. To the best of my knowledge, they were never trimmed. Over the years of my childhood, they expanded and reached out. Graceful leafy branches on the sides formed a little cave. A perfect fort when needed.

Every spring, the lilacs, under our regime of benign neglect, brought forth an abundance of bouquets. In the morning before school, using the sharpest kitchen knife I could find, I’d cut a bunch. Then carefully wet paper napkins were wrapped around the stems and tin foil covered it all. The lilacs for my teacher, and they were presented to her (all my grammar school teachers were women) before the school bell rang and our class began.

Last week Hurricane Irene sweep through my hometown, Troy, New York, and many of the other nearby towns and cities along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, causing flooding, mudslides and destruction. My hopes and best wishes for a speedy recovery and rebuilding to all those who have experienced damage and loss.

Several small grass roots efforts have been popping up to meet the unique needs of affected communities.  Check out children’s book author, Kate Messner’s website to learn how to help Vermont libraries restore their lost collections.


A Knitter's Home Companion button Contest is still on.  I’m giving away ten. Send me an email and let me know where you would pin your button. The contest closes on September 4th.