Taking the Roses for Granted

When my husband and I moved into this apartment, our backyard was a strip of dirt that lay between our stairs and the garage. Construction debris littered the dirt, and a discarded stove sat on top of it. I asked my landlady if much of this could be removed for a more aesthetically pleasing back entrance to our home, and she complied. Once the junk was gone, I saw that this dirt was also home to a beleaguered rose bush that had seen better days.

The arrival of spring a few months later triggered a new desire in me, the perpetual tenant with homeowner envy: I wanted to try my hand at gardening.  My husband set out to help me one day by weeding out and cutting back the unruly bits of green that were popping out of the ground where the debris had been. In his enthusiasm, he nearly hacked the rose bush down to a stub. I should mention here that my husband was a newly arrived immigrant from Senegal who wasn’t used to pruning or even seeing rose bushes. If I hadn’t come home when I did, he might have committed plant slaughter.

Several weeks and several doses of Miracle Grow later, I witnessed my own small miracle: leaves, then buds, and then flowers—deeply crimson—coming forth from the rose bush. I began checking it every day like an obsessive mother, cooing over new blossoms and carefully pruning any overgrowth. Encouraged, I bought some annuals to fill in the rest of the developing garden. We brought colored rocks from the beach for accent, and planted tomatoes, basil, and oregano for our meals. Roots and crawly creatures now replaced the bits of Styrofoam cups, nails, cigarette butts, and wood that previously occupied the dirt. I was thrilled and soothed by this thing of beauty and wonder that we were cultivating outside our door, and I spent a lot of time just staring at it, savoring. I also stopped to smell the roses more than once, grateful for their subtle fragrance.

Three years later I’m more ambitious—adding perennials, climbing vines, and transplants from generous neighbors and my parents’ yard. I also have cutesy garden novelties amid the flowers, and a solar-powered globe that glows in multiple colors at night…eerily thrilling. I peek out every morning to see what’s bloomed since sunrise, and I delight in the birds, butterflies, and bees that visit. I’m still in love with this little garden, but, the other day as I was watering it, I realized something kind of…sad. In my zeal to entertain and challenge myself with new and different flowers and plants, I’d forgotten to be amazed by the roses this year. And there were dozens of them now, showing off as I walked past them to groom a new acquisition.

I bent down to sniff the roses, clipped a small bunch, placed them on in a vase on my kitchen table, and started thinking. What else was I forgetting to be amazed by anymore? Who and what else was I taking for granted as I sought out new experiences, friends, and thrills? How quickly I move on, I realized, ever questing for the next new thing. What about the tried and true? And so I stopped–to look around, pay attention, and find things to be amazed by all over again. The list included: rainbows on my walls, made by a crystal catching the sunlight; the maple and pine trees offering my eyes a green place to rest when I looked up from the computer and out the window; my healthy body, showing up for me every day despite the many times I’d overtaxed it; my parents’ abiding love and concern for me, expressed in a card that sat next to the vase of roses; and the way my husband does the dishes, folds my clothes from the laundry, cooks delicious meals, and tolerates my…moods. The list could go on and on, really, to encompass everything that goes right for me every day, and all the ways in which I’m lucky, safe, well fed and blessed in a world where so many suffer and lack.

It’s amazing, all the things that I should be amazed by. And I plan to remember that, especially when I pass the roses.


13 thoughts on “Taking the Roses for Granted

  1. True that, Kimmy!! I am thankful and honored to be you sister-in-law, with the dark hair!! xoxo, Shauna ps, this new blog is amazing, like YOU

  2. Kim, What a lovely reminder of all the opportunities for gratitude in every day. Your blog gave me a lunchtime lift on a dreary day. Looking forward to the next entry.
    Your California Monkey

  3. Woo Hoo!!! You’re on your way, girl! GREAT first post – I took some time to go out and smell my own roses. Anita

    1. Anita – thanks so much for taking the time to read it and I LOVE that it led you to smell your roses – yay!! Blessings on everything you are doing to break out and shout out and get out there with your creativity!!!

  4. Kim,
    I love it.
    I’m taking a “page from your book” by stopping to smell the roses (making sure no bees are buzzing by:-) and just “being.”


    1. Yay! that’s why I write…to share what’s worked for me and, hopefully, help others…watch out for those bees!
      love ya
      p.s. it’s so very Carrie Bradshaw, no?

  5. Kim, I too believe that everyday that we are given life is a blessing. The birds, bees, flowers and human beings are something we all need to appreciate and cherish.

    1. I must say this was an excellent read may you continue for all to read and motivate others.

  6. I love the blog posts. I would like to ask you to check out the harm that miracle grow might be doing to the soil. Here is a link to one opinion: http://davesgarden.com/guides/terms/go/2307/ there are others and everybody does not agree. I googled and that was the first one I read.

    I hope that you take this suggestion not as a criticism, but as something for you to consider and make a decision on before you use it. Education is key.

    I enjoy the blog entries I’ve read so far. Beautiful thoughts to improve my day. Thank you.

  7. Kim, I also enjoy your garden every time I go outside I love to look at it. Thanks for making the yard look so pretty.

  8. This is lovely. It’s amazing how a battered rose can recover when it’s trimmed back and given a bit of TLC. Congratulations on the beautiful transformation of your yard.

    Vicky has a point. For the long term, adding compost and/or organic fertilizer would be better for the health of the soil and all of the organisms that live in it that help support plant health. Over time, I’ve increased my use of compost and mulch and been very impressed at the positive effect on plants, as well as all the life in that soil. Every time I dig in to plant something, I find at least one earthworm.

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