It’s April, and we had a sunny hot week, so the lilac bloomed. My favorite flower! I walk the dog each night to the corner, where there is a lilac grove. In the evening, the scent perfumes the balmy air.
Anne Marie, who has a hedge of lilac, gave me a bouquet of white and purple lilac, and the whole apartment smells fresh and clean. (Even if it isn’t – believe me, I haven’t had time to clean in weeks…)
I saw my first pink lilac in Germany. I took the night train from Paris and arrived early in the morning. I was headed to a book conference. I started to look at the area map, to see where I was, but right away the scent of lilac tickled my nose, and I saw a small, absolutely beautiful lilac tree with shell-pink blooms. I didn’t know it existed in that color.
I was standing there, eyes closed, drinking in the scent, when someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked (in English) if I were lost. (The pink tree was just in front of the train station, half hidden behind the map of the area.) I looked at her, and I must have been half loopy from my trip from Paris and drunk on the strong smell of lilac), and I said to her, “Do you speak German?”
She raised her eyebrows and said, “Of course, this is Germany, and I’m German.”
I was flustered, and pointed to the lilac bush. “Can you tell me how to say ‘lilac’ in German?”
Her eyebrows went even further up. “That’s ‘lila’ (sounds like lee-la), is that all you want to know?”
I shook my head, “No, I am lost. Can you point me to the hotel?”
It turned out she was a writer too, and on her way to a book conference. Her name was Marte Cormann, she became a good friend. We would take walks every day, when the conference broke for lunch, and she’d teach me “German Words I’d Never Use”. Now, whenever lilacs bloom, I’m taken back to that sunny weekend in Germany, strolling around Weisbaden, and I remember my German words, that include goose, swan, asperagus, badger, and lilac, of course.