There were lilacs blooming in my dooryard.
But they are browning now, and they are almost gone; they were very early lilacs.
It is strange to see them at the end of their lives now, since, usually, they are my markers of my birthday – late April, the time of spring coming back, the time of the thaw, the time when everything feels like home again, like live grass and new birds.
I’ve chosen houses based on whether there were lilacs there. I’ve stayed in this house, as I wrangle with the bank over possible foreclosure, sometimes only with the hope of seeing another bloom of those trees from the windows of my own office.
The lilacs in my backyard when I was little were taller than the ancient trees in my Chicago garden. They were so tall that they stood like a curvy wall of trunks topped with heart-shaped leaves. I could lie on the bare ground under them and pretend things, like forts and like towers and dragons, since that was what I would be pretending anyway, flowers or no.
In the Massachusetts of my childhood, I could have told you exactly the week they would bloom. In Chicago, I used to be content to know that they would bloom on my birthday if I was lucky, Mother’s Day if the year was cold.
This year they bloomed in March.
The winter and spring we had out here was far too warm far too early and, really, if you were paying any attention at all, terrifying.