Tending Roses

By: Diana Shellenberger

After living in this house for 18 years, only today I discovered this pink rose bush. Because it’s located within a tangle of red rose bushes along the south side of the house, I might be forgiven for not noticing it before.

In pre-Christian times, the rose was a symbol of the goddesses of love. As Rome became more Christian, so did the rose. It has become a symbol for Mother Mary.

My usual role has been to harvest, prepare and preserve the produce in our large vegetable garden. I enjoy the flowers that came with the house, the roses among them, and all the ones Don has planted. Until this year, my attitude toward the yard has been avoidant, even mildly negligent. I left most of the hardest work to Don, who naturally enjoys gardening much more. For me there was always something more pressing, like child rearing, hiking and yoga. I confess that digging and weeding in the garden, under the hot Colorado sun and with stinging insects galore, has in the past made me very bitchy.

This year I’ve unexpectedly gotten more into tending the yard, spending at least a half hour daily weeding while praying and repeating Ganesha mantra Om gam ganapateyei namaha. The god Ganesha removes obstacles, and weeds are definitely an obstacle to the growth of the plants I want to grow and a hindrance to the garden’s overall beauty. Between Don, Ganesha and me, this theory is very nicely taking practical shape. Our yard looks more beautiful than ever.

I have always loved roses, the beautiful way they smell and how they raise their beautiful faces to the light. I’ve especially enjoyed hand-watering the roses on the south side of the house, a task that has in the past been done sporadically. Despite this indifferent care, they always bloomed generously. Caring for them in this way has rekindled my interest in flowers and herbs and their use in home remedies, cooking and skin care, three of my other passions. I think this extra care is also the reason I finally saw this pink rose bush. I am enjoying gathering and drying the roses to use in lotions, scrubs and herbal remedies. The neighbors’ two golden retrievers love to smell my hands when I’m picking roses. It’s aromatherapy for them, too.

It’s amazing what just a little extra care and simply observing what is already there can yield. For roses, for people, for anyone or anything.

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