“Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring.”
In our part of Texas, we seldom have severe winter weather. Although November was colder than most years, December was unusually warm until Christmas. But 2015 turned a cold shoulder on us. It has been wet and cold, with twice the normal amount of rain and very cold – definitely coat, scarf, and glove days. Since we have a few tender plants in our garden, when temperatures are predicted to drop to an extended period of hard freeze, we scuttle about trying to protect plants, pipes, and pets. We haul out our stack of covers and try to secure them in gusts of wind that take cover off as fast as we put it on while we weight or pin it down. We didn’t cover our antique roses, but they seemed to welcome the wet cold days with an extra crop of blooms. I have written before about the difference in color and fragrance in a winter rose bloom, but this round of blooming was so welcome in the bone chilling cold, gray days that I found them particularly welcome. These “Old Roses” are known for their survival. They come from root stock that is known for its stay power. The notable thing is that these roses didn’t just stay alive in the bitter cold and whipping winds. They bloomed anyway.
It is one thing to be grateful for having come from strong roots (the stories of my ancestors tell me over and over how much grit and grace they had)) – but it is another thing to be aware of what I may be passing on to my sons and grandchildren. I want to live in ways that can be described as not just surviving, but blooming anyway.
The past week has been unusually cold and wet here. One day was said to have been the coldest ever for this part of Texas. Of course, we have not had the snow and ice so many north of us have had, but I am remembering one day in the first week of December in 2009. I took this photograph while it was snowing. The rose is one of my favorite antique roses. It is called Maggie, and is the only rose I know that has a sweeter fragrance after it is cut to bring inside. I remember, too, the sweet carol that it illustrates. Old rose, ancient song, story forever new.
These windows at the back of our house mirror a rose arbor covered with blooms just a month ago. But summer arrives today says the calendar as well as the temperature, so the scanty blooms that are still there are pale and dried. The reflection today seems to say “all gone away.” But I know this rose. It is hardy and tenacious, with a reputation for surviving even a hurricane. I know it will bloom again. I will not mourn for lost blossoms. I will enjoy the many shades of green in its leaves, admire the lacy intertwining of its branches. I will wonder at the raindrops caught in spider webs woven in rose canes. I will count the bird nests perched inside the arbor’s protection, and rest in the shade it gives me. And I will be grateful for eyes that can see the rose bush reflected in the windows of home.
“Whether one looks at a star, a child, a moment of sorrow, or a time of gladness, blessed is the ordinary…I believe the small moment is the carrier of God’s most endearing gift, and that it must not be permitted to slip away unsavored and unappreciated…If one accepts each day as a gift from the Father’s hand, one may sometimes hear a voice saying, “Open it. I invite you to share with me in these little appointments with myself as we try to unwrap the hidden beauties in an ordinary day.” Gerhard Frost in Blessed is the Ordinary
Pewter skies and gentle rains yesterday gathered into thunder clouds and stormy weather today, so I stay inside, grateful for the morning last week when I took my camera into the morning light to receive the gifts of beauty offered by this climbing Noisette rose, whose name is Crepuscule. I don’t think the name is a lovely one, sounding harsh to my ears, but the word means twilight, that time of day just after sunset, and the flowers hold the memory of sunset in its unfurling petals. The loosely double blooms open nearly orange, fading to a rich apricot, peach, and yellow. The sprawling canes have light green leaves with rosy new growth. This rose has few thorns so reaches for me only with fragrance when I brush past it as I walk through the arbor, bringing me the “peace of wild things.”
THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
~ Wendell Berry
While many of our friends and family are wearing their warmest outdoor gear and shoveling snow, we have had a succession of cold, wet days that seemed to be just what the roses needed to cheer us with round mounds of fragile petals. I brought these inside more for their exquisite fragrance than for their beauty. I knew they wouldn’t last very long in the dry warm air of my kitchen, and they didn’t. At least, the blooms didn’t, shattering petals almost as soon as I put them into water. But their scent remains. I am grateful for the reminder of beauty experienced in ways other than my eyes and the lingering of joy – the way a phrase of song runs through my mind for days after it has been sung, the warmth of touch remaining after a hug, the smile that stays on my face even though the telephone conversation has ended.