Following is my column that appeared this week in the Devils Lake Journal, where I write articles and sell advertising.
When you live in one place – Devils Lake, North Dakota – for 20 some years like I did, and didn’t travel much during that time, you are struck by lots of things when you move to a new city, just as now I am struck by so many things here after being away for so long.
After graduating from UND I moved to Denver that summer, and I still remember the following spring looking for lilac bushes, which I was able to find, however not in the abundance in which they grow in the upper midwest.
Some eight years after moving to Colorado, I moved to Washington, D.C. I did not find any lilac bushes my first spring in D.C. – I guess the growing conditions there aren’t appropriate for lilacs. However, I was not disappointed as what is in abundance in D.C in the spring are azaleas. Many people grow them in their yards, and each spring I looked forward to azalea blooming season with their dazzling array of gorgeous colors! D.C. also is home to the annual Cherry Blossoms Festival. I have many fond memories of strolling around the Tidal Basin among the fragrant, pink blooms in the shadow of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and other monuments.
In addition to lilacs, another flower not abundance in either of my former hometowns are peonies, one of my favorite and I think the most fragrant of all flowers. A few years back I lived for nine months in Wisconsin in a small town called Oconomowoc just outside of Milwaukee. The town is about the same size as Devils Lake, and in its center is not one, but two lakes. It was a quaint, picturesque little town, and I was fortunate the nine months I lived there included spring. I was in flower heaven when the lilacs and peonies bloomed! Just a couple blocks away from where I lived was a large, old Lutheran Church, and its grounds included gorgeous greenery. I have to confess I tiptoed over there in the middle of the night a couple of the times and clipped both peonies and lilacs to bring back to my apartment. I justified it by figuring God wants us all to share and enjoy earth’s bounty!
I like to walk in the evening an hour or so before sunset. Flowers take on a different hue then – the color is slightly deeper and warmer. And usually, well in North Dakota it’s not always the case, the wind has died down so the flowers are still. Just down the block from me is a corner house with a large, lovely display of tall, deep-orange flowers that cover the whole side of the house facing west. The flowers are stunning, and I look forward to seeing them each evening on my walk.