Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lilacs & the love they hold May 21, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Lilacs grow in various shades in a row of bushes at North Alexander Park in Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.

LILACS PERFUME THE AIR, filling the lower level of my home with the scent of spring in Minnesota.

“Lilacs on the Table” inspired by my poem and painted by Jeanne Licari for Poet-Artist Collaboration XIII at Crossings in Carnegie in Zumbrota in 2014. File photo courtesy of Crossings.

These bouquets—three in my living room, another in the dining room and the fifth on the bathroom counter—are more than simply beautiful flowers. They are reminders. Of my bachelor uncle. Of my husband’s love. Of a poem I wrote in 2014 as part of a poet-artist collaboration.

Lilac bushes at North Alexander Park, Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo.

While my beloved Uncle Mike is long gone, the memories of the lilac bush which grew on his farm remain. I think of him each May when Randy brings me clutches of lilacs. It’s a sweet tradition. Loving. Appreciated more than a dozen roses, although those are lovely, too.

Lilacs, up close. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo 2013.

When Randy walked through the back door a few days ago with lilacs, I was surprised. Not that I should have been. He does this every May. I appreciate his thoughtfulness. I appreciate that he takes the time to gather these flowers for me at the end of a long work day.

There’s something simply sweet and precious about his remembering, his recognition of how much I value this heartfelt gift of love.


Breathing in the heady scent of lilacs each May,
I remember my bachelor uncle and the gnarled bushes,
heavy with purple blooms, that embraced his front porch
and held the promises of sweet love never experienced.

He invited his sister-in-law, my mother, to clip lilacs,
to enfold great sweeps of flowers into her arms,
to set a still life painting upon the Formica kitchen table,
romance perfuming our cow-scented farmhouse.

Such memories linger as my own love, decades later,
pulls a jackknife from the pocket of his stained jeans,
balances on the tips of his soiled Red Wing work shoes,
clips and gathers great sweeps of lilacs into his arms.


© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Lilacs & the love they hold”

  1. Washe Koda Says:

    Thanks for sharing Audrey 🙂 I miss hedges of Lilacs in the Northern Midwest 💐 ~Willy

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    A very sweet tradition. I love that Randy does this every year.

  3. Valerie Bollinger Says:

    What a lovely poem Audrey. I do love lilacs. The bush in our yard is an off- shoot of from the house/yard where I grew up.👍

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Susan Ready Says:

    Awesome photos and love love the poem. Oh, Happy Day, the Minnesota lilacs are in bloom.

  5. Oh, how I miss lilacs! I think it’s too hot in Texas for them to grow. My grandmother had a lilac perfume she wore often. I think of her when I smell them. Lovely poem, Audrey. ❤

  6. JanBeek Says:

    I love lilacs – and your pictures and poetry are beautiful. I wish we had fragrance sensors in our computers!

  7. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Such a sweet tradition, and such a beautiful flower to bring you. That Randy is quite a guy!!! On a recent drive in the country with dad, I noticed A LOT of Lilac bushes surrounding the farm yards.

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