Where The Lilacs Grow

No, This is Not A Blog By Wilson Rawls.  Yes, Wilson Rawls Is A Poet And Not A Sporting Goods Company

Lilac

 

Three Freaking Weeks

I had been looking forward to them all year.  I am not talking about political attack ads.

I am talking about our lilacs.  Last year, I finally discovered what these tiny lavender-colored flowers were that were putting out all the good smells around our property.  While I can identify a flower when I see one, if held at gunpoint and forced to identify which flower it is, then I bid you a very fond farewell.  I am the same way with twins.

I had no idea at the time, but I would go on to find that there are not one, but five lilac bushes around our four-acre property, all utterly fragrant when in bloom, and dotting our grounds with a color that is very similar to, well, lilac.

Come mid-May, our lilacs exploded in bloom.  It was absolutely beautiful, and utterly fragrant, so much so that I was forced to create a sentence with the words "utterly fragrant."  They complement our property with a beautiful addition to our color palette, which includes all the other flowers we have around our estate:

Camellia, roses, tulips, and doublefile viburnum.

Iris, lupine, delphinium, and coreopsis.

Black-eyed Susans, echinacea, rhododendrons, daisies, and honeysuckle.

Weigela, Japanese spirea, and peonies.

Poppies, azaleas and beautybush.

None of those mean anything to me of course, but in these blogs I need to sound intelligent.  Thank you to my neighbor Roland who is an expert landscape architect and who was able to identify my clumsy garden pictures for a small fee.

And out in the orchard!  Apple, cherry, pear, and plum trees waiting to explode in color and taste! Our son Asher likes to eat all the apples, so those trees are routinely naked.  When Asher does not get them, the deer do.  Or the squirrels.  Or the rabbits.  Or Asher.

But how did I not know that we had so many lilacs on our property?  Well, keep in mind this home is new to us as of August 2020, and we are still finding our way down here, which is another way of saying that I am still navigating according to the nearest known locations of Taco Bell and Safeway.

However, after all the anticipation and the realization and the joy…inevitably, came the sadness. Lilacs do not fare well in the Northwest’s fickle climate, and they usually fizzle out after only 3 short weeks, transforming into crackly brown husks that eventually fall to the ground and are blown away in the strong southerly winds.

It truly is a bummer to see them go, and though we harvested a few of them to bless our house, flowing like an undercurrent below all that joy and fragrance is the sad knowledge that we will be without them for another 49 weeks.  Not because Asher ate them though.

 

Peace Wherever Our Prison

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Thoreau said, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”  And “Leave the road, take the trails” uttered PythagorasAndy Warhol chimed in “Land really is the best art.”  Gretel Ehrlich said “Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are.”  And finally, Dodger said to the Garbage Pail Kids, "I don't think you're ugly, exactly."

I am fond of often referring to J.R.R. Tolkien.  If you want to read the works of an environmentalist who was utterly taken aback by the wonder of nature and was fond of describing it in rich detail, pick up a copy of The Lord of the Rings.  Tolkien goes to great lengths and leaves no green mossy stone unturned to reveal the secrets underneath.

I don’t mention all this as preface that we should go buy our Woodstock tickets and light up a doobie.  Nor am I a licensed tree hugger.  Nor do I frequent the ganja stores that now number in the thousands across our green globe, man, so hang loose.

The truth, however, is that this voiceover life can sometimes be a bit much.  It is hard to fund your dreams with money from voiceovers without money from voiceovers.  As such, expect pressure to mount.  Expect stress to build up.  And what do we do when pressure and stress mount and we need an outlet?  We explode, like a giant exploding thing that explodes.  I am a god at metaphors.

We voiceover entrepreneurs market. We audition. We put ourselves out on the chopping block day in and day out, over and over, rinse and repeat, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  It is a truly vulnerable act of becoming naked.  Rinse and repeat.  We run the rat race.

It is enough to truly overwhelm and drown out all the artistic beauty within us.

Before that happens, take time to get out and breathe.  Untether.  Decouple.  Breathe.

Smell the lilacs.  “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” said another nature lover.

In a previous blog, I covered this: maybe Depeche Mode had it right all along.  “Enjoy the Silence.”  There is truly something to be said for laying down and taking in green instead of cold, black cardioid, foam, and blue LED’s.  Otherwise, your career itself could be like the lilac: here one day, gone three short weeks later, because you lived in a fickle climate and you did not have roots to last.  You didn’t get in the right weather, and you allowed the elements to beat you down.

As for my family, we live in a beautiful place where the beautiful lilac grows, just outside my beautiful voiceover studio.  But no matter what kind of beauty I generate within these walls, it pales in comparison to the beauty growing on those trees outside.

Smell the lilacs.

I never thought that I, a city guy, would want to wear cowboy hats and tight Levi jeans with boots, and if you try to put any of that on me, I will cut you.  But the truth is that I do love me some country.  I realize with each spring and summer (and fall and winter) that we moved to the best place possible for our health.

I challenge you, today, to sort of make like Vanilla Ice: stop collaborating…and listen.  Go outside.  Listen.  And if you can’t – either because you are in the big city or you are incarcerated, in which case how are you reading this and I am calling your probation officer – then play this on a loop, and tell me your day didn’t just get a little more peaceful.

Unless of course you actually are incarcerated.  In which case please say hi to the big hairy brute behind you for all of us.  Does he like lilac?  Asking for an inmate.

 

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Joshua Alexander
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23 thoughts on “Where The Lilacs Grow”

  1. I agree completely. It is necessary for our health to take breaks. It is necessary for our soul to take the time to notice and enjoy the beauty around us.

    I can’t tell you how much I miss lilacs. It is a top 5 item for me of what I miss from the Northwest. They need a cold winter to flourish and where I am at in NC, they won’t grow.

    I also agree that you are the god of metaphors. Your gifts in the realm of metaphor are obvious to all. Believe me, no one else would say things the way you do.

    1. Spoken like a true…uh…GARDNER! I knew if anyone could appreciate this blog, it would be the man with “garden” in his last name. Thank you for reading! Tell me, how many of the plant names that I listed were you already familiar with?

  2. I’m starting to think I’m an outlier, but honestly, I don’t often feel “rejection.” I focus on the work, not the result. Occasionally if I get shortlisted for a sweet gig and don’t book it, that stings a bit, but in the normal day-to-day prospecting and auditioning are part of the gig. I’d rather be doing that than sitting in endless meetings while middle managers justify their existence and I feel the wall close and consider running by car into an abutment during the commute home.

    1. “Paul Outlier Schmidt.” I like the sound of that. OH NO! No wait, can’t do that. Then your initials would be P.O.S., and we just can’t have that, can we. Hahaha! Thank you for the great insight…you are spot on. And please don’t run into any abutments. We want you alive, Mister…or how else would be moved…touched…inspired? I await your outlier response to my p.o.s. question.

    1. Lilac jelly sounds SCRUMPTIOUS! What a great idea. Who knew they could be used for more than just sitting in a vase looking beautiful? Can they be used to make *anything* delectable then? I think I’m going to try to make some lilac lobster next time they bloom.

  3. Lilac must be a very close relative of one of our favs! The one I’m referring to, we call Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Their flowers open deep purple and then they turn white as they age. We had 3 bushes, I think. Two against the same perimeter wall and one at the garage corner (the biggest of the three). Such a pretty sight and the smell is just as great!!
    Has only happened once, for me seeing it, and that is one of the bush’s flowers came in at the same time, and the whole bush faded to white over a few days – such a cool sight!

    Haha, yeah, I’m not versed in flowers either, or, as James put it: “Poe-a-tree” haha. I did have a gift for poetry, to where I just got stuff to write and it was effortless. If I have to sit down and write, it’s very forced. Eh, lol.

    I’m so glad you get to enjoy them and that taco bell can help you locate yourself, hahaha.

    1. Thank you Marius! They are (correction: WERE! *sniff sniff*) a great source of fragrance that just lit up our property. I miss them already. Yours sound good and, well, timeless! Man, if my lilacs could only last yesterday, today and tomorrow, I wouldn’t even need Taco Bell!

  4. Love this so much, Josh. As a child who grew up playing for *hours* in my backyard with ponds, creeks, and weeping willow trees, it’s hard being a Texas girl now with a windy, hot, (mostly) barren acre. But, I declared enough to be enough this year and we just planted fifteen shade trees that hopefully will make our little spot of land a lot more pleasant to be outside on in the coming years.

    1. I don’t doubt it! Wow, when will those shade trees bloom do you think? What’s their lifespan? At any rate, that sounds awesome. I’ve heard it’s hot right now! Hopefully one of those will be a magic lilac tree as well, so it will be hot but fragrant. 🙂

  5. Outside is my happy place! If I didn’t need a studio I think I’d live in a tent or up a tree. Thanks for sharing your bit of peace.

  6. I’m currently suffering through massive allergies to the spring flowers. No lilacs that I can tell, but plenty of other stuff here in the Mid-Atlantic. I think I’ll go blow my nose now.

  7. This blog entry was a breath of fresh air to me! But the audacity of lilacs to stick around for just 3 weeks! Vexing!

    I frequently refer to Karina as a plant doctor. I also, inversely, frequently refer to her as a city druid – meaning her powers are exponentially greater in the concrete jungle as compared to actual nature. But for some reason she knows all things plants and can tell you just about everything you’d ever need to know about them. It intrigues me. I think she’d love to admire your plants at the barbecue!

    Also – isn’t Captain America’s shield made from doublefile viburnum??

    1. OK. OK. WHOA. I mean, I was all smiles and really intrigued by this newfangled information you have just disclosed about Karina Apollo Lira Apollo Lira, and then you go and make me spit out my drink in a laughing fit with that last line? Talk about a twist! HAHAHAHA! Yes. Yes, I’m quite sure that Captain America’s shield is in fact made entirely of Doublefile Viburnum, which is harvested from Wakanda, of course, the World of Plants. After all, Black Panther lives there, and he walks AMONG plants. So, ya know.

  8. We are in the freezing and miserable first half of winter here and there’s not much to smell pretty – but gosh the sky is gorgeous when it’s cold. So I’ll take my moments to enjoy that fresh, clear beauty outside. <3

    1. That sounds delightful, Sumara! I’d love to see a photo of that sometime from where you are! I love going outside when it’s brisk, and the air smells so gosh darn clean and clear.

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