Purple Promises

March 29, 2010 by Ellen Stimson in Springtime

Tonight we sat by a cheery fire with our friends and ate cheese and bread and soup after a cold gloomy day. Spring is such a tease. She brings you a run of warmth and green buds appear on trees and everyone sighs and smiles and then Bam!, back comes a day with a high of 29 degrees and the green buds seem to turn gray and suck in their cheeks and hold their breath. Dreary.
But we cannot be fooled. We have tasted the sun’s warmth and we know that it is coming as surely as the grill on the terrace and the lilacs all over town.

This spring has been hard in other ways besides just the wind and cold and rain. But I keep remembering that somewhere there is a woman waiting outside a restaurant for a man. She is looking at the shapes of the men passing by waiting for the one she loves. He is running late because he spilled his aftershave in the sink and all over his shirt. He had to change only then he realized he smelled like a twelve year old using cologne for the first time, so he decided on another quick shower, new shirt, then new aftershave since all the first one got washed off. He hurries. He can’t wait to see her. Meanwhile back on the street she shifts her weight and keeps watching for him. In twenty years they will be married, raising kids, and the smell of that aftershave will take them both back to that day.

People have been falling in love through war and in spite of poverty and hard dismal times forever. Spring is a reminder that hope will keep the whole complicated business moving inexorably forward. The dogwoods and the lilacs are just beginning to bud. Right now they are tight little green dots…spots of hope in a cold gray landscape. The first to explode will be the crabapple bushes by the front porch. I am going to sit our there on that porch and wait for them. Van Morrison will be pouring out the front door and I will watch the pink and white color fill up the air. Later the petals will fall like snow in the warm breezes of April and May all over the yard. I crave those warm breezes. They dry up the mud and spread tiny seeds around for the bees and the birds. Hard times have been here and they will undoubtedly come again. But I am going to listen to Van and maybe some Lighnin’ Hopkins and wait for the lilac beside the driveway to burst into color. Those old bushes are all over the village and pretty soon the whole town will smell of them. Ours is huge and ancient and it will be like a purple Mardi Gras parade right next to the house. I am going to fill vases with its flowers and watch them bloom, first the old ones with their deep dark heavy fragrance and then the younger lighter ones that are more pink even barely blue, than purple. I look at them and think of walking in Elsah with my husband imagining how our lives might unfold that first year when we had love and cheap champagne amid a steady backdrop of Van and Lighnin’ and all the boys. A vase full of lilacs reminds me of those Elsah days and Saturday afternoons at the Oyster Bar and that somewhere a woman is waiting for a man she loves. Spring can do that for you…. even a hard one.


  • starrlife

    The smells, sounds and special awakening of the eyes is a major trigger for all kinds of memories on a very deep level I think. Almost primordial and instinctive. Oh it sounds like you have some very lovely well established lilacs – they are my favorite flower of all- so short lived but fabulous while they are here. We have some newer bushes but not so many flowers yet. I am reduced to stealing them from random places on the side of streets 🙂
    Sorry to hear it's been a difficult time. There are hard times everywhere with this economy it seems.

  • Kate

    You sound so sad. I wish I could hug you tight and sit with you and watch Spring come to life. I planted the first of my garden yesterday. It felt like sunshine in my soul. It will come.

  • laurwilk

    I'm having a hard spring too – a sad spring. Reading this reminded me that things are happening even if they're happening slowly. Someday again (and hopefully soon) things will be okay. Perhaps even good. I hate waiting for this to all change and evolve. I also hate waiting for winter to turn into spring and spring to turn into summer. But without fail, it all changes and summer comes. And this – this thing I so desperately want – it will come as well.

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