I did not come here a lover of roses.
In fact, my disinterest in these exotic beauties bordered on disdain. As I saw it, most modern roses, cultivated for “the perfect bloom” or a new, fine, rare, exquisite color, seemed to require so much care, particularly sprays I didn’t want to buy or use to keep the myriad rose enemy critters at bay. And while the perfect bloom may be pleasing to the eye, the intense breeding/grafting/cultivating has often banished the tantalizing perfume of “rose.”
And on top of all that, (or alongside!) thorns.
So, “not a fan” would have been an understatedly accurate description of me.
Before Hickory Lane.
the aging previous owner
proudly explained to me
that there was a rose at every gate.
These roses had been here for decades,
I hope my smile successfully masked my inward groan.
My thoughts went this way:
“Oh, those poor delicate dears;
it’s only a matter of time.
They are doomed to death.”
I found myself drawing in deep breaths of rose fragrance, going out of my way to check on blooms, trying to capture the splendor in photos, and humming songs about roses. (Yes, there are songs about roses.)
The American Rose Society currently recognizes 37 classes of roses (such as ramblers, floribunda, damask, etc.) with 150 known species, and thousands of hybrids of these, so figuring out “who’s who” on Hickory Lane sounds like a daunting project. (I know they are oh so fragrant. And pest resistant. Ahh.)
Maybe next year.
But I don’t have to know their genus-species moniker to embrace the beauty and lessons my roses bring to my world. Here’s what I’m learning:
1. Life is a messy mixture. Life is not compartmentalized into “good stuff” and “bad stuff,” good days and bad days. Life is a mixture of horrible and holy, of thorns and rose splendor and I want to live in that honesty. When my world is rocking with an in-house crisis, I still walk through a heady cloud of honeysuckle-rose scent on my way to the mailbox. When the whole world is reeling in the wake of San Ysidro, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown, (pick your decade…) or, oh no, dear God, no, this week, Orlando, sometimes all I can do is follow Mr. Rogers advice and look for the helpers. Some days, the roses are my helpers...and the honeysuckle too.)
As it turns out, it’s me that is doomed, moving fast down a one way street to somewhere else. And these lovely but fast-fading flowers help me stay cognizant of the fleeting nature of my own life. They remind me that I won’t be flourishing here forever… not in a fatalistic way, but in a perspective adjusting reality check.
Roses are a seasonal wonder here in central Pennsylvania. No one expects them to be flourishing in February when they often disappear under icy snowdrifts. June is their season to shine, and then petals fall like rain and fade to oblivion. So, I've been thinking about that. And that song I’ve been humming? (No, not Delta Dawn…)
(by Jack and Elsie Osborn and James C. Miller.)
I am going to a city
where the streets with gold are laid.
Where the tree of life is blooming,
And the roses never fade.
Here, they bloom but for a season, soon their beauty is decayed.
I am going to a city where the roses never fade.
Sometimes I simply pass by, and I forget.
Forget to look,
forget to live in this truth,
forget how loved I am.
Some days the mulch of my life,
the piled up storm debris causes me to lose track of God’s unfailing love for me.
But He never loses track of me,
He never forgets,
this One whose creativity formed the rose’s heart and mine.