Snow on the Lilacs
Good thing I didn’t plant the tomatoes on Friday, when the sun was shining, when it was 70 degrees and my apple trees were blooming and the lilacs were this close to opening. Good thing because today it’s snowing. Snowing like winter, big fat wet flakes falling outside my window, two inches on the lawn, and the poor lilacs are all bent over from the load. Everything will be fine, this is expected, it’s Montana after all, and although the official last frost date was yesterday, the 17th, everyone knows that if you put your tomatoes out before Memorial Day you’re just asking for it.
And I have to say, I’m enjoying a snowy indoor day. This week was a little much. We had a raucous night Tuesday watching the debut of my friend Bill Campbell’s documentary, Season of the Grizzly, on the Animal Planet, and wound up on the porch in the glorious late evening light eating outdoors and drinking far more wine than we should have. Wednesday was the opera in Bozeman, Aida, which was fabulous — really. They bring in singers, and the orchestra was terrific, and the music was so good that the local kids’ goofiness as dancing girls and extras was charming and not annoying. But it’s a long opera, and it was 12:30 before I got home. Then Friday was the Fur Ball — the Humane Society benefit, which was fun and all, but I am not an extrovert by nature, and by Friday night I was getting tired and grumpy … So a snowy spring day where I can curl up inside with last week’s NY Times, with George Eliot, with Reading Lolita in Tehran, and try to refill that creative part of my brain so that tomorrow, when the new iBook comes to replace my dead PowerBook (totally crapped out on Thursday — but the local guy got it to come back to life long enough that we think we can get my data off it), so tomorrow, despite the day job, and the garden chores that need to get done (I’m planning pea trellis made from 1/2 inch copper plumbing pipe), I can get back to the novel. Get back to the novel with a clear head, get back to the novel like a person who has had a day off.
I went outside a while ago and cut an armful of snow-covered lilacs. They’re in a tall vase below the portrait of my grandmother in my now-perfect living room. It’s funny, the Proustian-memories some things bear. My dad’s birrthday was yesterday. For a while when I was a child, my parents had a farm northwest of Chicago, and there was a sort of lawn-courtyard formed by an enormous ring of lilac trees. And every year they’d bloom in time for my Dad’s birthday — I don’t know whether he actually did really love the smell of lilacs, or whether it was one of those things I got in my head as a kid, that Dad liked lilacs. I remember cutting armfulls of them, and taking them down to his office in the old guest house by the road. Later, after my parents divorce, things got a little weird at the farm, we’d go out on the weekends and stay in our old house that now had almost no furniture in it, but the woods and the creek and the pond and the lilacs were always the same, and we loved them the way only little kids can love a piece of ground. So here it is, the middle of May, and I’m back in a part of the world where there are lilacs. Happy Birthday Dad, I’m thinking of you as the lilacs warm up inside and spread their scent all over the inside of my little Montana house.