The House with the Lilac Hedge
The unpaved road was smoothed by years of use. Up ahead it made a sweeping curve to the west. We’d turned off the two-lane highway at a sign that promised Iris Bulbs For Sale, 3 Miles Ahead.
My friend at the wheel had never been down this road, although she had lived in this part of Idaho for several years, and I was visiting from California. We had the windows rolled down and the radio was playing background music to our chatter.
Suddenly needing silence to concentrate, I reached over and turned off the radio and asked her to slow the car. There. That old apple orchard, weeds high, and trees gnarled and un-pruned for years. What was it that stirred a feeling of anticipation?
“There’s a huge boulder over there, right in the middle of the orchard, could you pull over, Joyce? It’s where the dog is buried.” Was that me talking?
Joyce kept her face forward and rolled her eyes sideways at me.
“The house is just ahead, Joyce.”
“The iris place?” she asked as she drove forward.
“No, no. There it is! The lilacs used to form a hedge around the yard. Some of them are in bloom over there. And the porch, do you see? The porch roof is a wonderful place to look at the stars. And there’s a ramp around back because, because…”. I was suddenly aware of my foolish talk.
“I don’t know what I’m talking about, Kiddo. Think I might have gone a little nuts here.”
“This is weird”, my friend said, “but I am not going anywhere until we walk around back, I want to see if you have been here before.”
“Of course I haven’t, Joyce, it’s just something that just came out of nowhere.”
We were out of the car and walking through the tall green grass, and inhaling the beautiful scent of lilacs. We had to push through some overgrown bushes to reach the back of the house. No ramp. We looked at each other and I shrugged. Then we laughed.
“If there’d been a ramp, I’d have been really scared” Joyce said as she threw an arm around my shoulders.
Then I remembered. Two wide boards that were kept under the porch were put in place for the rolling chair. I pushed some weeds aside with the toe of my shoe. Rotted and gray with age, the planks were there.
Today I was looking through a box of old papers.
There it was.
The photo I took that day.