Nothing declares spring, and the promise of all it brings, like the scent of lilac.
After college, up here, I found lilacs flourishing along highways around Lincoln, Concord, and Brimfield. My mother-in-law provided a legal supply until her bush died a few years ago. Occasionally I snatched my annual spray from one of a few bushes overhanging the Marlborough Street sidewalk. I'd never poach in yards, just from public paths, and never took more than two stems a year.
In recent years, my husband has been getting my annual lilac fix from campus on commencement day. He says he risks it to keep me out of prison. On a Sunday morning in May, he dresses in his magenta academic robe, doctoral hood (blue), and a cute octagonal beanie. He looks like he came from Central Casting as The Sage Yet Somehow Sexy Professor, and the grads and their mothers can't get enough of him as they pick at terrible boxed lunches after the ceremony. He safely pilfers a whole bouquet in his adorable medieval outfit. I wish he would try robbing a cupcake bakery next.
This year, I've decided that the lilacs in the yard of the vacant apartment building across the street are free for the taking. A developer just bought it and it's soon be trashed and converted to luxury condos — months of construction noise, just what we need around here. I feel no qualms taking my pruning shears over there (after dark, I don't want to be blatant about it) and snipping a few. That poor bush will probably be torn out along with everything else in a few weeks.
Besides stealing lilacs and jaywalking, I'm boringly law-abiding. But I broke into In Home Furnishings, on Boylston Street, a few years ago. I was heading home from work and decided I needed another look at a paisley sofa. The store had closed early, but I didn't notice. I pushed the door with conviction — why was it sticking so badly? — and I guess I broke the lock. As I went in, the alarm went off, and I realized that the store was dark and empty. So I slowly, casually left and walked down Boylston, listening to the alarm and an approaching police siren. Possessing upper-body strength and enthusiasm for paisley sofas are not crimes, I told myself as I kept a wary watch for police cars during my trip home.