Today is my birthday so I hope you will excuse me if I take a few minutes to revel in my blessings. Some years my birthday actually falls on the same day as Mother’s Day. Minimally, both big days are always around the same time each year. It’s a double whammy of sweet gifts and well-wishes. Today, my youngest son’s classroom had a special event for Mother’s Day but it felt like one big birthday present. We did a little gardening, created some art, and were treated to a musical show. I was even interviewed (by my son!). He was sweet enough to whisper to his teacher about my birthday whereupon the entire crowd sang the Happy Birthday song to me. What a considerate sweetie and what a nice crowd!

Here we are with our gardening projects: a planter with sunflower seeds, an impatiens plant we put in a pot he decorated and some thyme we also planted together. You can’t see it but there’s also a clay project in the shape of Nathaniel’s imaginary friend “Rockguy”.

Here are my gifts that include a card he made and a poem. I love that Nathaniel’s teacher emphasizes poetry to the kids.

One of the benefits of a May birthday where I live is the gorgeous weather. This year our garden is already growing strong thanks to my husband, G, who built three raised garden beds last year. Here’s a peak. It’s such a beautiful day!

A few years ago we had some construction done on our house and it required cutting down a lilac bush that had been there for many, many years. Our house is quite old and we have been told the woman who lived here before us was an avid gardener. The house had been vacant for ten years before we moved in and the yard had been completely neglected. Gradually, as we cleaned up the yard, we started to find new things blooming that we did not realize were there. Over the years many things have appeared – daffodils, tulips, Rose of Sharon (blooming again), clematis, iris, lilies and forsythia to name just a few. There are many flowers and plants the previous owner had cultivated but had been stifled due to neglect. Ever read “The Secret Garden”? Kind of like that. The lilac bush was one of the things that really “blossomed” (sorry) over the years so it was sad when it had to be cut down.

About four years ago we put in a back patio and hired a landscape designer. She is very passionate about using native plants and thanks to her I am fully up to speed on the reasons why that is a good idea. So I was a little surprised when she suggested we put in several Korean lilac bushes. But her idea was to surround the patio and pay homage to the lilac bush that had been lost. I would say she is practical but with the soul of an artist. Well, as it turns out, my birthday falls exactly when the lilacs bloom. Today I have been enjoying the intoxicating lilac perfume in the backyard -so strong it even wafts through the house.

Here’s a photo of what I am able to enjoy.

Just like fleeting childhood, these lilac blooms will not last long. I try to drink it all in while I can and focus on being grateful for my many blessings.

Even if you do not have the pleasure of enjoying lilacs in person today perhaps you will appreciate a poem dedicated to them. It even mentions “lilacs watching a deserted house”. Cool.


And happy Mother’s Day to you mothers out there and all of you have/had a mother. 🙂

Please excuse me while I head back outside.


BY Amy Lowell

False blue,
Color of lilac,
Your great puffs of flowers
Are everywhere in this my New England.
Among your heart-shaped leaves
Orange orioles hop like music-box birds and sing
Their little weak soft songs;
In the crooks of your branches
The bright eyes of song sparrows sitting on spotted eggs
Peer restlessly through the light and shadow
Of all Springs.
Lilacs in dooryards
Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;
Lilacs watching a deserted house
Settling sideways into the grass of an old road;
Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom
Above a cellar dug into a hill.
You are everywhere.
You were everywhere.
You tapped the window when the preacher preached his sermon,
And ran along the road beside the boy going to school.
You stood by the pasture-bars to give the cows good milking,
You persuaded the housewife that her dishpan was of silver.
And her husband an image of pure gold.
You flaunted the fragrance of your blossoms
Through the wide doors of Custom Houses—
You, and sandal-wood, and tea,
Charging the noses of quill-driving clerks
When a ship was in from China.
You called to them: “Goose-quill men, goose-quill men,
May is a month for flitting.”
Until they writhed on their high stools
And wrote poetry on their letter-sheets behind the propped-up ledgers.
Paradoxical New England clerks,
Writing inventories in ledgers, reading the “Song of Solomon” at night,
So many verses before bed-time,
Because it was the Bible.
The dead fed you
Amid the slant stones of graveyards.
Pale ghosts who planted you
Came in the nighttime
And let their thin hair blow through your clustered stems.
You are of the green sea,
And of the stone hills which reach a long distance.
You are of elm-shaded streets with little shops where they sell kites and marbles,
You are of great parks where every one walks and nobody is at home.
You cover the blind sides of greenhouses
And lean over the top to say a hurry-word through the glass
To your friends, the grapes, inside.
False blue,
Color of lilac,
You have forgotten your Eastern origin,
The veiled women with eyes like panthers,
The swollen, aggressive turbans of jeweled pashas.
Now you are a very decent flower,
A reticent flower,
A curiously clear-cut, candid flower,
Standing beside clean doorways,
Friendly to a house-cat and a pair of spectacles,
Making poetry out of a bit of moonlight
And a hundred or two sharp blossoms.
Maine knows you,
Has for years and years;
New Hampshire knows you,
And Massachusetts
And Vermont.
Cape Cod starts you along the beaches to Rhode Island;
Connecticut takes you from a river to the sea.
You are brighter than apples,
Sweeter than tulips,
You are the great flood of our souls
Bursting above the leaf-shapes of our hearts,
You are the smell of all Summers,
The love of wives and children,
The recollection of gardens of little children,
You are State Houses and Charters
And the familiar treading of the foot to and fro on a road it knows.
May is lilac here in New England,
May is a thrush singing “Sun up!” on a tip-top ash tree,
May is white clouds behind pine-trees
Puffed out and marching upon a blue sky.
May is a green as no other,
May is much sun through small leaves,
May is soft earth,
And apple-blossoms,
And windows open to a South Wind.
May is full light wind of lilac
From Canada to Narragansett Bay.
False blue,
Color of lilac.
Heart-leaves of lilac all over New England,
Roots of lilac under all the soil of New England,
Lilac in me because I am New England,
Because my roots are in it,
Because my leaves are of it,
Because my flowers are for it,
Because it is my country
And I speak to it of itself
And sing of it with my own voice
Since certainly it is mine.
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