The story begins when his grandmother, Hazel Mae Fairbanks Dinkel, was eight years old. Her father George Fairbanks built a cottage on Crescent Lake in Acworth, New Hampshire. Hazel was recovering from Scarlet Fever in the days before penicillin so her Dad, on the advice of her doctor, brought her to the healthy environment of the lake to help her recuperate. Hazel recovered and her cottage was the site of happy family gatherings for many, many years. Jim has fond memories of the lake and cottage from when he was a boy.
There was a lilac bush near the cottage that failed to bloom for twenty years after it was planted. The only time that lilac blossomed was when Jim was born—never before or since.
Jim has a videotape of his grandmother retelling the story in 1988 from her beloved cottage. These are Jim’s grandmother’s words:
"Oh, the lilac bush. This little thing is all that’s left now. I don’t remember exactly; but my mother set it out in the early 1930's. It hadn’t ever blossomed. We always used to say, “We wish the lilac bush would blossom.” Well, the year that Jimmy was born, it had probably a dozen big blossoms on it. I was so delighted. Why, the blossoms were so beautiful!" I came up on a weekend, and the first thing, I saw the lilacs and I said, “Oh, I wish Louise could have those.” So we went to the hospital. I took the big bouquet of lilacs. Well, the plant has never blossomed since. It has gotten smaller. It doesn’t bud. It doesn’t do anything.”
Jim’s seems to have had a rapport with flowers his whole life. His mother told him that at the age of two, he was excited when his father brought home an Easter lily. Jim now has a beautiful garden that he tends with the help of his wife Amelia (who runs the civic gardens around town for our club). Amelia and Jim have a beautiful home on Mill Pond in Eastman with lots of land leading to the pond. Jim’s philosophy is to minimally help his flowers and plants with water and good soil but leaves them fairly wild. Pretty daisies, buttercups, lupine, buckleberry and clover cover their backyard. Gorgeous deep purple Johnny Jump Ups have popped up unbidden along the steep rocky path on the side of their house. Jim told me that if that’s where they want to be, he won’t move them. He’s just careful where he steps.
While I was in Jim’s yard recently, there was a lilac bush in full bloom as well as flowers everywhere. What an idyllic spot to sit on their double swing amid the flowers, watch the baby ducks and geese follow their parents around the pond, and reminisce about wonderful times. Happy Birthday Jim!