It has been quite a year for lilacs. The ones in the parking lot island have finished their blooming and are now lush in their summer greens. I guess the long, cold, snowy winter was just the ticket for lilacs (and a lot of other plants, by the look of things around here). But the poor bush I yanked unceremoniously out of the ground last fall isn’t faring quite as well.

I decided this plant was in the wrong place, snuggled up in the corner by the kitchen porch—not enough sun, too much wind, and stiff competition from the forsythia. So I moved it about fifteen feet west, where it could get good sun, now that ten of the twelve hemlocks once crammed into that space are gone. And when the chapel doors stand open in the summer, it would provide a lovely view. So with about half an hour to kill one afternoon, I tackled the move.

Wrong plan.

Lilac root balls are impressively large and deeply buried. Once committed, I had to get the job done, so I just got what I could of the root ball, dug the deepest hole possible (not nearly deep enough), in the remaining few minutes I had, and hoped for the best.

When this bush budded out with her parking lot neighbors in January, I was thrilled. She had made it! What stamina. But in April, when the rest of the crew was bursting with color and perfume, this little one just sat there with the same tiny buds she had produced months earlier. Uh-oh.

Every day I visited her, made sure she had enough water, checked her limbs for any sign of life, sang to her and convinced myself that there was suppleness just under my fingertips. Let’s give her another week before pronouncing her past hope. Every day when I examined the little buds, I told myself something was happening there. Truth to tell, I just couldn’t face the fact the I may have killed this little bush myself. Please, God, don’t let me be a murderer this late in my life.

Then, a few weeks ago, there it was, the proof I had been watching and praying for all that time. No doubt about it now, there was green appearing at the bud tips. Oh, wow; we both had been reprieved.

But a few days later, I got a bigger surprise. This bush hadn’t flowered in the three years since I moved here, so I assumed moving it would mean no blooms for several years more. But there, right at the tip of about half the branches, were tiny blooms!

She may be nearly half a year behind her sibs across the driveway, and she may look puny to other folk, but to me she’s simply gorgeous. You can be sure I spend time with her every day, still watering, and touching, and speaking words of praise to her.

She has become one of my teachers. Hang in there, no matter how hopeless you feel, she says. If you’re yanked out of your comfortable home, leaving most of your roots behind, just sit tight in your new digs. New life may appear when you least expect it, and it will be all the sweeter for the surprise of it. Rough treatment certainly is no picnic, but you may find out you are tougher than you think. And don’t worry too much if your neighbors seem to be more beautiful than you are; there is someone in the world who will love you to pieces, just the way you are.


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