The roses this past June were stunning. Sandy—the rose specialist in our small group—said we wouldn’t see roses like this again in maybe 20 years. According to Sandy, it’s the multiple freezes and thaws of our Colorado springs that set roses back. But, this spring brought a nice slow warm up; hence, a once in 20 year show stopper.
Sandy likes old roses. As we sauntered through her gardens, she pointed out the rose from a stock that’s so old it probably came out west in a covered wagon and another found somewhere in Denver that’s estimated it’s original stock is from the 1700s. However Sandy procured her treasures, I never thought to ask.
Unlike Sandy, I like hybrid teas, some of the tried and true varieties—putting out like I’d never seen before.
But, though the roses bloomed in glorious array, all was and is not right in the world. Little could we have guessed that the profusion of blossoms would hale forth a summer hot and parching. We’ve had droughts before; who could have ever dreamed of what awaited?
Sometimes, heat can burn right through the soul, and ash can settle into every crack of the heart, unrelenting—searing an already broken frame. “Why?” we question. “But this isn’t what I planned, what I expected, what should have been.” But, somehow it simply is.
Nathaniel Hawthorne used the rose as a symbol of hope in his Scarlet Letter, a story of “human frailty and sorrow.” As the juniors and I wove through Hawthorne’s pages this fall, I couldn’t help thinking of the wonderful roses at the beginning of summer, at the beginning of the novel and alluded to throughout. I couldn’t help thinking how differently life will turn out for many of them sitting there, reading…unsuspecting.
“Human frailty—sorrow.” Does it not await us all in this journey?
Perhaps we should all do as Hawthorne suggests and pluck a rose from the bush outside the prison door—of the human heart.
A rose that will bring some sweet fragrance as we step into fall and the wintry season beyond.