– guest post by Katie Hughson
I have NEVER seen lilacs before in Japan.
I came across this inconspicuous little patch completely by chance outside a 7-11 last month, and of course I had to go over and sniff it.
I immediately felt homesick.
Where I grew up in Canada, our house is almost half surrounded by lilacs that have been there since before me, thanks to my dad, who was an avid gardener .
Despite the fact that I was only nine years old when my dad passed away, we developed a pretty tight relationship. He let me ‘help’ him with the gardening from as far back as I can remember, planting, admiring, and harvesting flowers and vegetables.
He’s the one who taught me the names of most the flowers I know.
He brought me to gardening shows – at least one focused on tulips – and I ran around, gathering all the cards displaying the photo and name of each kind of tulip; when I got home I proudly put them into my sticker album (even then I was particularly taken back by the deep black purple one; I can’t remember the name……but I feel it had ‘queen’ in it.)
As I ran around playing in the back yard during the spring and summer, I would always shove my nose into flowers, discovering what smelled and what didn’t (and what smelled bad: I decided daisies smelled like bum); picking veggies to eat after rinsing them under the garden hose.
To this day, freshly-picked carrots with garden soil on them is probably the most nostalgic scent that I haven’t smelled since then…………………. but I think I can remember it perfectly.
The lilacs: Dad had planted them all along the back border of our big back yard, with a couple of teasers in the front yard, too. When they were in bloom, and when I had a friend come over to play and it was time for them to go home, Dad would come out with the shears and cut a bouquet of lilacs for my friend to take home to their mom.
But back to that random 7-11 in Japan by the train station.
I didn’t want to leave the spot, but I eventually had to.
It was a pretty busy area, and I was standing there huffing with tears in my eyes for long enough that I know I looked weird.
Whatever. Passersby don’t know what they’re missing.