I remember reading once that you could track the migration of civilization by the lilac. For thousands of years and across continents, people have gingerly uprooted this beloved plant and carried it with them on their journeys to new lands, planting the lilac once they established a permanent settlement. For me, there is no greater symbol of spring and new beginnings—and family. Among my most cherished childhood memories are those of my grandmother who, each spring, would deliver buckets of freshly cut lilacs that my mother would lovingly arrange in pitchers and vases throughout our home.
Eight years ago, my own family (just the three of us back then) picked up our own roots and left central Pennsylvania, where my extended family has lived for at least eight generations, and drove 1,000 miles to our new home in the Midwest. This was a leap of faith for us, but one which allowed me to leave my career in higher education to take on a new and exciting role as a stay-at-home mom to our then year-old daughter. Our lives have changed in countless ways over the years. Among other things, we are now a family of five, having added another daughter and a son to the mix along the way. I also began to realize a new love—family portraiture. For me, photography is more than capturing pretty pictures; it’s capturing tangible evidence of who we are and where we come from and enjoying that “proof” for years to come, whether it be hanging on a wall or tucked away in a special album to share with future generations.
As we began that exciting new chapter in our lives so many years ago, we carried with us in a glass bottle a start from a lilac bush. It was a single two-foot-long branch with tiny thread-like roots that was gently uprooted from the back yard of my grandparents’ house, our family’s home-base for several generations. Undoubtedly, I could have easily bought a more mature bush from a local nursery to plant at our new home, but I doubt I would feel the same joy and pride as I do when mine blooms each spring. It—like my own family—has adapted to its new environment and is thriving.
(Yes, those are THE lilacs above!)