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Lilacs and apple blossoms stir memories

By Staff | Jun 5, 2009

My morning walks down Third Street Southwest in Rugby this week have been phenomenal. I often dream of a spring when lilacs and crab apple blossoms bloom simultaneously. It has occurred a few times in the 22 years I have resided in Rugby, and this spring has once again united the sweetness of the lilac and the potent, pink beauty of the flowering crab. I nearly camped under Dave and Deb Zwingel’s flowering crab tree. A pink canopy of heady blossoms featuring flowers with the most defined petals graced their front yard. I personally have dubbed it the best defined flowering crab in our neighborhood.

Early these past mornings I have been wandering the neighborhoods in southwest Rugby like a vagabond. I am lost in the beauty of my neighbors’ lavender lilacs and cherry pink flowering crabs and often stand by their curbs or in their yards gazing at the exquisiteness of the brief blossoms. I had to stroll by twice one day just to lock into my mind the deep crimson pink, silken petals of the flowering trees between the Mullally home and the Voeller home on Fourth Street. I have dubbed these the best color for a flowering crab.

If Joy or Richard Lavik had happened to peek out their south kitchen window early Tuesday morning, they would have witnessed me enjoying the symphony of heady lilacs in Sandy Thingvold’s front yard. I was actually lying on my stomach, photographing and enjoying this chorus of lilacs. Can it be that flowers make music? As the wind whispered through their lavender clusters, they played a memory of melodies for me. Why, I was experiencing my own mini Music in the Park one block removed!

One of the first years that we resided in our home at 815 South Main, we invited Curt and Maxine Strand and Harold and Jean Vigeland to our home for a Sunday evening coffee time. Both Maxine and Jean asked what they could bring. I responded by saying, “Why not a few springtime blossoms from your yards?” It was a spring like this, and the twins – lilacs and flowering crabs – were at it again. Being friends, we know they discussed how they would present their centerpieces at our home.

Jean arrived at our front door first. In her hands were two delicate mini vases, each displaying the charms from her backyard crab trees. Pink trinkets of flowering crab blossoms spilled over the edges of ruffled vase tops. She explained, “Jan is like me. She likes blue, and I know these will match her delicate Royal Albert bone china with the mini pink and blue flowers!”

Next, cradled in Maxine’s hands was a spray of lilacs from her back door in a deep green ringed bowl. She commented, “We cannot have blossoms without lots of green, which is my favorite color.” (Maxine and Jean always had a fun rivalry between their two favorite colors-Maxine’s green and Jean’s blue! Jean always claimed that God was on her side because there is more water than land.)

The lilacs and the crab blossoms were placed on our dining room table, completing the setting, and color harmony abounded. Jean was correct – the flowering crab drew out the pink hues in Jan’s Memory Lane pattern, while the ocean wave blue vases added another hue of blue to the palette. We gathered around the table as Jan served her applesauce cake with thick, rich penuche frosting. Of course, a river of rich, dark coffee flowed, which never seemed to bother our sleep.

Twin blooming of the lilacs and flowering crab brings this memory back abundantly. A newly-married couple is enjoying the fellowship of two very seasoned Rugby couples while the fragrance of the twin blossoms lingers over the table and the conversation flows with ease. It certainly didn’t seem that 40 years separated our ages. It was easy to see the intentions of Curt and Maxine and Harold and Jean. They wanted us to feel welcome in the community of Rugby.

We quickly learned that Sunday evening coffee meant walking to each other’s homes and using the front door. That evening as Jan and I bid them farewell from our front steps, underneath a wondrously moonlit sky and in the sweet fragrance of lingering lilacs and apple blossoms, we felt a sense of contentment and belonging.

We were recently in the Strand home for evening coffee with their son, Mark. We reflected on the many Sunday evenings we enjoyed coffee and conversation with the Strands and the Vigelands. We truly treasure these memories and appreciate the history of their pasts, along with Rugby’s past, which they were so willing to share with us.

I share a poem which Maxine had hand-penned on an ivory and green linen studio folder and displayed it by her lilacs on our table.

Repnow is a Rugby resident.

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