Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lilac Memories

(Reprinted from my wordpress.com blog dated April 28, 2010.)

I was born in Niagara Falls, New York. We moved to Florida when I was 8. When I used to tell kids at my new school where I was born, they would always ask if my mom was going over the falls when I was born. Stubbornly, I would say, “Yes.” It’s funny that even now when I tell people where I was born, that next sentence still comes instantly to mind and I think to myself, No I was not going over the falls.

As my mother would attest, I sort of lived in my own little dream world growing up (some would say this is still the case). I used to flit around singing and dancing and such. We lived in the sort of little neighborhood where it was safe to wander a few blocks here and there, and do our own little bit of exploring. I believe two blocks behind us is where I found “The Flower Lady.” It was the first time I had ever seen someone plant flowers in their entire front yard. There was a little white picket fence surrounding it all and no grass to be seen. I really wanted some of those flowers. My exact memory of how I got the first bouquet is a little fuzzy. I know the lady of the house did come out to talk to me. Whether she found me standing and staring from outside the fence (which would have been the appropriate thing to do) or whether she found me strolling amongst her flowers (the more likely scenario) is not clear. She did get to me before I picked the first flower, I do remember that. I told her I wanted to bring some flowers home to my mother. She made me a beautiful bouquet and I went dancing home, so proud to present them. My mother was not so happy to see my offering though. Mortified that I had picked all the flowers from someone’s yard, she made me take my father back to the house where I had gotten them. They did not believe my little story that someone had just given them to me. So back to The Flower Lady’s home we went. She announced to my father that I had indeed asked for the flowers and did not take them on my own. Whew! Saved….that time. From then on, I visited The Flower Lady (as I had dubbed her) quite often.

At the end of our street, lived an elderly couple: Mr. and Mrs. Buttons. They had several lilac trees in their yard that were too beautiful for me to resist. Knowing I could not get in trouble if I asked first, I boldly knocked on their front door and asked if I could have some blooms please. Who could resist a little five-year-old with white hair bouncing about who thinks nothing of introducing herself and telling her entire life story (to my mother’s continued mortification)? From then on, The Buttons’ yard became a new play place. My pals and I would hang out underneath the trees, orchestrating our little plays and singing songs at the tops of our lungs. Many times, I would have them walk all the way down to our front yard to watch one of our productions (that I was, of course, the director of). I would put chairs out for my parents, The Buttons’, and my best friend, Judy Zimmerman’s Nanna and Bumpa (I believe they were Hungarian) to come watch us perform. Wearing my mom’s old crinolines, I’m sure we were a sight.

Every spring, when pictures of lilacs abound, my mind floats back to Duluth Street, Niagara Falls, New York….to The Flower Lady…..to Mr. and Mrs. Buttons…..to the 12 noon fire hall bell call…..to the biggest wild roses that grew outside the little neighborhood store (I did help myself to those many times). I guess it is good that I cannot actually grow lilacs here. Maybe they would lose their special place in my memory if I saw them so often that I took them for granted. So I will happily gaze upon their pictures instead and let my mind wander back to my own little dream world.

In childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking out. In memories of childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking in. ~Robert Brault

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