Wednesday, June 1, 2016
This year, our roses were slow to bloom. They started out looking like they'd bloom extra early, actually, with big buds swelling by mid-April. But then we had a particularly vicious cold snap at the tail end of April - the temperature never climbed out of the forties on May 1, the coldest day of the snap - and those darling buds froze. They broke clean off when I touched them. I was disappointed, to say the least. In every previous year that we've lived in this house, I've had roses in bloom for Mother's Day. It's not even that I love these particular roses so much; I would much prefer a more fragrant variety, perhaps a tea rose, and I prefer paler-colored roses, soft butter-mint yellows and pinks. I don't even know what kind of rose this is but it doesn't matter; I've grown accustomed to its face.
My rosebush is a great source of pride for me. I taught myself how to tend it, reading books from the library, nipping and pruning on a wing and a prayer. I think I've mastered it now; the bush usually gives me four or five really good bloom cycles between May and October, and I'm able to clip roses for bouquets throughout the season, as well as leave plenty on the bush to jazz up the planter bed, which runs along the eastern wall of the backyard. It's a good place for a rosebush; there's bright sun almost all day long, and the bed is fitted with both sprinklers and drip hoses, so there's always enough water. It blooms trustily, year after year, and I don't really do all that much to make that happen, but it feels good anyway. You know what I mean, right? There are no flowers, then there are flowers, and it's mostly a function of nature - rain, sun, bees - but you helped, you really did.
When I was a little girl, we had red roses like these growing against the back of our house, in an untended flower bed that also contained daylilies and peonies. Some previous owner had planted them and they proliferated there. We were not a garden-oriented family, and we let them go wild. The daylilies annoyed me - too much pollen, too garish and sort of snakelike, with their spotted orange throats. The peonies drooped stickily, always swarming with ants. But the roses were gorgeous, I thought. Crimson-red, fragrant and numerous, they bloomed through the month of June. I think they would have bloomed beyond that if we'd pruned them, but we didn't. I would always clip a few for my bedroom, displaying them in a tall Tupperware tumbler on the dresser next to my bed. Once, I knocked the tumbler over during the night, probably with my blanket as I turned in my sleep, and woke up to a wet pillow and roses next to me on the mattress. My accidental bed of roses.
This year's roses didn't bloom on Mother's Day, but the very first bud opened on our wedding anniversary, last Wednesday, the last day of school - a simply wild day. I came home from a ballet recital, takeout pizza in hand, and immediately saw the rose through the kitchen window. It had opened since I left the house ninety minutes before. We ate our pizza on the patio, exhaled for what seemed like the first time in a week, and admired our rose.