20 June 2013

Where the roots are formed

White, green trimmed, and surrounded by trees and flowers, the farmhouse where my grandparents lived is the place I think of when I recall my childhood memories. I didn't live in their home but I grew up on their farm.  We lived on the same property on Cherry Lane, my house was just down a dirt lane from theirs, and most of my waking moments were spent climbing Grandpa's walnut and apples trees or helping him in the garden, making quilts or baking with Grandma, laying in the shade of the old birches, or running around in the barns playing pretend with my sister and cousins. This place was home. This place is where my roots formed.

In the front lawn, next to the dirt lane and near the garden, Grandpa had a row of roses bushes.  He cared for these with tenderness, trimming them each week when the blossoms faded, cutting them back each spring after the frost. When I was probably 8 or so, Grandpa taught me how to properly trim and prune the roses: always cut diagonally right above a leaf of five to have the best long-stemmed single roses buds. As he taught me, he'd tell me about the different bushes, where he got them, why they were special.  A dusty mauve rose was a gift from my uncle who died in his twenties when I was a little girl. I always thought this rose was the most beautiful, most bittersweet of them all. Another was a peace rose with the sweetest fragrance, one was peppermint colored, and one looked like sherbet.   My favorite, and Grandpa's too, was the red thornless rosebush. 
When Grandpa got cancer, caring for the roses became my responsibility.  Rather, it was not a responsibility but an act of emulation and love in the only way that a young girl knows.  I'd wear his too-big leather gloves and push his big silver wheelbarrow down the lane filling it with spent blooms.  After Grandpa died in 2000, Grandma sold the house and land and moved to a smaller home in a subdivision.  Before she moved, the thornless rosebush was dug up and transplanted to her new house.  I always made a point to trim the blooms and prune it for her when I visited. 
This thornless rosebush is now at my house. Matt planted it for me last fall after Grandma died--we moved it from her house in Nampa to mine in Boise.  I was afraid it wouldn't survive the transplant but last week it bloomed red blossoms just like it has for the last twenty-some years at the farm and at Grandma's house.  And I like to think that a little bit of farm dirt is still on those roots, that part of my grandparent's land is mixed with mine, that I have part of my childhood memories and a piece of my grandparents, living and tangible in the form of a rose.


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