Mother Nature Is Always Teaching Me Something

Old Fashioned Roses, copyright Beabe Thompson 2015

Old Fashioned Roses, copyright Beabe Thompson 2015

I bought a marked-down rose plant at Lowe’s one year. It was supposed to be a shrub type of rose, docile, hybridized within a centimeter of its life. Instead, I got a frightening old-fashioned climbing rose.

For those of you who are like me, uncertain of plants except what we like, there’s a huge difference between an antique climbing rose and a nearly thornless shrub. Like Joan of Arc versus someone’s sweet grandma. Despite the fact my mislabeled rose was planted in the less than ideal flowerbed in my backyard, it thrived. Boy, did it thrive!

In just a few years the main trunk was big as a toddler’s arm, and sporting thorns sharp enough to tear clothing or penetrate cloth gardening gloves. Just walking past it was like a scene from Little Shop of Horrors. My rose would take a blood tribute if you weren’t wary.

It grew and grew. If branches weren’t cut back, it scratched holes in our bedroom window screen, making noises like a Stephen King novel. It produced large blooms that smelled like expensive vintage perfume and looked lovely in a crystal bowl. This rose was a throwback to the 19th Century when rose cultivation was appreciated.

One day Dearest and our yard guy had enough. Too much blood had been sacrificed to keep my scary rose in an outgrown flowerbed, and even I had to admit it was time. Francisco decided to take two enormous branches and thrust them into a couple of empty spots in our side yard where it was unlikely they’d survive or create bloodshed again. One died pretty quickly, the wrist-thick branch failed. Then discarded.

The second was another story. We thought it had followed the same fate as its sister. But lo and behold, new growth appeared, then buds, then blooms. Despite being fated to die an ignoble death, my fierce rose had survived.

Despite Virginia Creeper and Morning Glory vine intrusion, drought, neglect, too much sun, and horrible soil, she lives on. And maybe that’s a lesson for us all. Despite the challenges of life, we can survive and show the world we won’t quit, won’t bow to failure, illness, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, and other heartbreaking things.

Often it’s just to keep going and find ways to flourish, to say “I’m still here, dammit. You won’t knock me down for long.” Be the rose vine, be the one who finds new ways to put down roots, to reach out for more life, more sunshine, more ways to bloom despite others’ expectations of you, of loss. Survive and thrive.


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Ramona DeFelice Long

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