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Lilac blooms

This is probably the most beautiful week of the year. The petals of the flowering crab blooms have started to drop while the lilacs are just opening for one sensual, scented week of bloom.

Unfortunately, for most people this week is also the busiest week of the year. People are as busy as the bees on the blooms.

Farmers race across the enormous fields in an attempt to make up for the late spring. Their supporting cast roars across the gravel roads to bring them seed, fertilizer, fuel, parts and lunch.

Non-farmers are busy outside, too. Gardeners rush to finish their planting, longing for the first ripe tomato.

By the time you finish mowing the lawn this time of year, the place where you started needs mowing again. You can't keep up.

High school graduations take up a lot of time and energy, especially for those who have to clean their houses and yards for the first time in 17 years.

Graduations are also hard work for people with lots of friends and relatives who feel obligated to travel the punch and cake circuit for well over two weeks, honoring kids who barely know them and could care less about anything but the currency in the card.

Some people actually enjoy the festivities, but a silent majority grumbles and goes through the motions.

For older folks, Memorial Day, formerly and more accurately known as Decoration Day, is a time to clean up and plant by the graves of the loved ones.

The cruel reality is the older you get, the more graves you have to tend and the less help you have to tend them.

Busy, busy.

Then, the weddings begin.

Is there anything more uncomfortable than a June Saturday afternoon in a hot church, sweating in a suit that is two sizes too small, but which you only wear twice per year so there's no reason to buy one that fits?

So most of us just whiz past the beauty of the blooming crabapples and the heavily scented lilacs on our way to work, weddings and graduations.

I dream of the day when I will be able to sit back and enjoy the week of blooming lilacs and flowering trees with as much time on my hands as when I sit through a December blizzard, watching the snow blow past for three days straight.

Then I realize that if I ever have time enough to enjoy this lush, florid time of year in an unrushed manner, I will probably be pushing up dandelions, or close to it.

This is just a busy time for all living things.

The temporary nature of spring's beauty -- of any natural beauty, for that matter -- sometimes leads humans to try to outsmart nature and produce permanent beauty.

Artificial lilacs, for example. I've seen them, but they just don't work.

In fact, artificial flowers are a crime against nature.

So are facelifts. And fake vines. And plastic orange trees at the dentist's office.

"Don't you have a tree that blooms all year?" is a phrase I hear almost daily at work.

No, I don't have such a tree. There isn't such a tree. And if there ever came to be such a tree, I would work to prevent its release to the general public.

Why? Because any attempt to make beauty permanent results in ugliness.

A child is beautiful because he or she will soon change. A 30-year-old with a child's features is as grotesque as a baby with a beard.

A beautiful model in a magazine is beautiful because no model can always be beautiful. Age will get the beautiful people too -- and we know it.

A flower is beautiful because it will soon fade -- and we know it.

A perfect summer day is more exhilarating in Minnesota than in California, because here we know that the ice just went off the darn lake three weeks ago, and the days will start to get shorter the week after next. Winter is on its way!

So, while we might wish the blooms on the flowering crabs and the lilacs would last a little longer, perhaps all summer, it is a wish best left ungranted.

Living things, it seems, are beautiful to the extent that they are temporary.

And any attempt to freeze the natural cycle of beauty and decay is as plastic as a Hollywood facelift.