Monday, October 20, 2008

Pruning the Roses

Today I committed myself to do some yard work.

When Tyler's bank closed, we knew we needed to scale back our finances and George, our hard-working lawn maintenance man (and his gas-leaf-blowing team), was one of the first cuts. It was pretty much a bummer because Tyler and I do not like doing yard work. And I've determined that if the hours from 8am-10am on a Saturday are filled with other activities (i.e. scout campouts, soccer games, sleeping in) then Tyler's window for yard work has been closed and he'll have to wait until the next Saturday to see if he can fit it in. Because we have a large yard and it's desert landscaping (ick!) I also tend to completely ignore it. On Saturday, though, while waiting for my nieces to arrive, I decided to clean out the entry way and the front shrubbery. ANYWAY, I didn't get everything blown out and cleaned up AND because I'm a little OCD, I tend to spend hours picking up dead leaves and debris I knew I needed to dedicate a good chunk of my Monday out in the yard.

For as much as I put off working outside, I really like it. I think I'm pretty good at it and I don't really shy away from the harder stuff. Basically I'm saying I'm not afraid of running the leaf-blower or mini-chain saw, and I can go to town with my hand-held pruning shears. Working in the yard gives me a lot of time to think. Picking out crab grass doesn't take a lot of thinking other than finding the root and pulling it all out and hacking back over-growth doesn't take a lot of skill. So, basically, I enjoy the work because it gives me the time to think.

Today, as I was trying to work some magic with our rose bushes-gone-bad I was feeling really frustrated. See, I love my rose bushes. The couple who lived in this house before us planted rose bushes sporadically along the east side of our house and we've tried to fill in some of the gaps with extra plants. One day I would love to have all the bushes grown into each other and produce these gorgeous blooms of various sizes, colors, and varieties all in unison. And I love the smell of fresh roses. I've never smelled a store-bought variety that comes close to the sweet fragrances of our flowers. It reminds me of the smell of raspberries. But while some of our plants grow and produce beautifully, others are struggling to grow and produce anything. And some of our plants that have been healthy and strong have this weird leaf-rotting-look going on (I gotta google it . . . I'm hoping it's just weather related.) On Saturday I trimmed and cleaned up most of the plants, but today I realized I hadn't worked this one last rose bush.

This rose bush is huge. It sprouts these 10 ft. high stalks, but rarely do the roses ever burst from their bulbs. To make matters worse, this bush was planted right next to our air conditioning units, and today it was time to clear off some of the growth so it didn't end up jamming the fans of our ancient AC units. When looking at the rose bush, it didn't seem too different from the ones I had cleaned up on Saturday, but upon closer inspection I noticed all these dead limbs gnarled around the struggling live stalks. I took my shears and started cutting off all the dead, crusty parts, but I was having a hard time getting my hand in there without getting all cut up. Because this plant has particularly honkin' thorns. But I persevered. I found myself personally invested in the life of this plant. I started taking some of the plant and pulling it the opposite way of the air conditioning unit so it'll grow into a safer zone. I cut off all the half-wilted semi-blooms and I cut off all the dead barky parts of this rose bush that have been around forever. I swear I could almost feel the rose bush breathe easier.

Or maybe it was that I could empathize with the process of finally getting rid of all the strong, gnarled, old branches that were really confining the new, healthy ones trying to grow. I began to think about how what I was doing to the rose bush was not a lot different than what we do for our loved ones who have become tangled in hard and crusty things. Yes, I was getting totally gouged every time I stuck my hand into the mess, just like sometimes it's uncomfortable to confront or comfort a loved one who is struggling. And I felt a little repentant that I hadn't done something earlier. Every other time I did my yard work, I'd invest just a bit in that rose bush knowing I could come back to it later, and ultimately ended up hoping George would just fix it for me. And I've done that with friends and family members before, too. I keep it real surface and sometimes hope someone else will step in to help or to do the work.

I'll have to keep you posted . . . I'm sure you're all thinking, "Lame post about yard work," but it was a real thought-provoking few minutes and since those don't happen too much, I'll hold on to it. Cuz the scent of it was really sweet.


Troy and Nancee said...

You really need to read the Secret Garden. You sound exactly like that author.

Beth said...

I think I'm afraid to see where this goes...!