Friday, April 26, 2013

Lilacs. The Sense of Smell

For the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories and it is a pity that we use it so little. – Rachel Carson

Lilacs.  I would fill my home with them if I could -- all year round.  There are none to be found at the market, but my neighbor has one that has burst into full bloom, filling the street with it’s heady scent.  I make up excuses to step outside and wander over -- just to put my nose deep into the flowers and inhale.  Mmm...better than any drug and so much finer than diamonds they are to me this morning.  Their peppery sweet scent tells me that Spring has settled in for good and another Winter hibernation has ended.  I want to dance with the joy that bubbles up inside. 

Yesterday, late afternoon sun on the blooming flowers made quite a feast for the honey and bumble bees.  I watched as they lazily buzzed, warm and looking a little drunk - drinking deeply from the floral cups, moving from one to the next, positively humming with giddy contentment.

This morning, I feel just like yesterday’s drunken bees as I sip my tea and attempt to form cohesive thoughts; engulfed in a scent that fairly numbs my brain -- from a few stolen lilac sprigs sitting in a small Ball jar filled with fresh water on my bedside table.  A mourning dove has taken up a place in my brick-walled garden and croons to me through the window as I type.  This is one of those magical moments to breathe in and savor, because in this moment, I feel an expansive stillness and am fully aware of my connection to all living things.

Before the sun started to rise this morning, I tip-toed out the front door in full bed-head mode, still wearing my yellow and white check cotton pajamas, stopping long enough to wrap a scarf around my neck and slip into an old jean jacket that I keep by the front door before slinging my camera around my neck.  Have you got the visual?  Not a moment was to be wasted, so strongly was the near primal urge that drove me to be back among the lilacs.  

I’ve read that smell is the oldest sense.  A single scent can, in the blink of an eye, magically time-travel us to our fondest memories, our most embarrassing moments, our saddest times.   This morning, the city was still quiet and when I closed my eyes I could almost feel green grass under my bare feet.  In an instant, I was whisked all the way back to my grandmother’s garden on a beautiful, sunny, Kansas morning with the scent of lilac everywhere.  My twinkling grandmother has been gone for many years and sadly, so is the sturdy, Craftsman-style cottage my grandfather built with his own hands.  But I was there again this morning...dancing among the dewdrops with the fairies.

Some photographs were stolen this morning from my neighbor’s garden as well -- I’ll slip one through his mail slot later, as payment for my thievery.  I hope you enjoy them, please let me know if I can list one for you in my Etsy shop or just feel free to stop in and browse.  Spring is such a lovely time to freshen up interior spaces and Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  Photography makes a perfect, rather unexpected gift.
Now, close your eyes, conjure up the scent of lilac...where does it take you? Wishing you the very best this Spring,

E. England


  1. With the fruit trees in full bloom here in the countryside, I was JUST reminiscing on the powerful properties of our sense of smell. The fruit blossoms instantaneously transport me back to my childhood home, where the streets were lined with ornamental plum trees. Yum!
    As for lilacs... your story transports me right back to Nantucket. Oddly enough, that's where I got a whiff of my first lilac. I was hooked. I now have 5 (young) bushes growing in my garden :D
    Thanks, again, for the wonderful story!
    XX Emily

  2. Lilac's are my favorite flower and scent too. They remind me of my parent's house as there used to be a huge bush of them in our backyard. Lovely spring photos. I am stopping by from the CC team on Etsy. I will make sure to check out your shop as well.


  3. I love that my post triggered other lilac and fruit blossom memories. The trees around out home have all gotten so big, I don't have enough sun for growing lilacs anymore...which means my poor neighbor sees a lot of me this time of year!

  4. pretty.
    I think of the secret garden.

  5. Thanks Hena -- I love that book. You're right!

  6. My mother loved the fresh scent of Lilacs.... we used to go picking them - just for her.

    As I've grown and gotten older, I find that I love the smell of them as well. They are so elegant to look at and smell as good as they look. :)

  7. I love your verbal imagery! I could almost smell those lilacs and feel the cool grass between my toes! I do agree that scent can take us many places, down old rows and new, through comfort and stress. It's all about the memories a certain scent conjures for us.