Waves of lilacs, in an unforgiving land

Field of lilacs, Queensborough RoadAs I noted just a few days ago, it’s lilac season once again. And yes, I know I’ve also noted that the lilacs are always splendid throughout Hastings County, but really, this year they seem to be putting on an especially good show. The blooms don’t last all that long, but while they are out, it is just a wondrous thing to drive (or bike, or walk) along the back roads and even the main roads of this part of the world.

Today Raymond drew my attention to an extraordinary display, along Queensborough Road southeast of Queensborough. Part of it is what you see in the photo at the top of this post, but the photo doesn’t begin to do justice to it. It is a whole field of lilacs – waves of lilacs. Perhaps you can imagine how lovely the scent of the early-evening air was when I stopped to photograph them.

One of the other pictures that I took contains something interesting that didn’t strike me until I’d returned home and downloaded it. Here’s the photo:

Rocks and lilacs, Queensborough Road

What I like about it is the mix of the lilacs in the background and the rocky area in the foreground. I like it because it says so much about the people who settled this place, who tried to farm the thin soil that just barely covers the rocks of the Canadian Shield here in, as poet Al Purdy calls it, The Country North of Belleville.

Those early settlers often planted lilacs around their homes to bring some springtime beauty to lives that were filled with hard work and harsh reality. Nowadays you see many places where the lilacs still bloom but there are no longer homes; they have been long since abandoned, decayed, torn down, burnt. Perhaps – very probably, in fact – those homes’ long-ago inhabitants finally gave up hope of making a living by farming that thin soil, and moved on.

But the lilacs remain. The lilacs, and the eternal rocks.

2 thoughts on “Waves of lilacs, in an unforgiving land

  1. The scent of the lilacs is one of the most evocative for me. And Purdy’s poem? Absolutely one of my very favourites. Thank you for causing me to read it again.

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