Story of the Day

"The Rose Babies"

Most people press a flower in a book when they wish to keep it as a memento.  My mother doesn't believe in preserving a memory by hiding it.  Her motto is, "Don't press it!  When will you look at it again tucked away in a book?  Make it grow!  Enjoy its beauty as a living flower, not as a withered keepsake."
That's my mother.  She can make anything grow.
Recently, Mom received a mixed bouquet of flowers from her sister for her birthday.  She is especially fond of roses and was delighted to find two roses in the bouquet.  "Oh, look at the lovely roses.  I've never seen such a beautiful shade of peach in a rose.  I must save it as a souvenir."
I have seen this process many times, but I watch in awe each time.  She takes one of the roses and cuts the bottom at an angle with a pair of scissors, wraps the bottom in a dampened paper towel and places the rose in a plastic bag to keep it moist.
Now I know it's my turn.  The magic is about to begin.  I run to the pantry to get a quart jar, once used for canning peaches.
"Here's the enchanted glass jar," I announce, as I return with it.
We head for her lilac bush.  I carry the jar and the plastic bag that contains the rose.  She carries warm water in an old coffee can, bent so that it has a spout on each side of it.  My mother deliberately keeps her lilac bush overgrown.  She trims it in such a way that it becomes fat and dense.  The soil beneath it is damp and warm.  She easily digs a hole with her hands and places the rose cutting in the hole.  I help her carefully pack the dirt around the rose.  She places the glass jar over the rose, and firmly twists it into the ground.
Finally, she gives the rose a drink, pointing the spout of the coffee can to the bottom of the glass jar.  She whispers, "Oh, little rose, let me warm your toes, this'll keep you safe when the cold wind blows.  See you in the spring, little rose."
"Little rose is all ready for her long winter's nap," she explains to me as we walk back to the house.
My mother is shameless when it comes to asking for a rose from someone's front yard or their garden.  But no one ever refuses her request.  And one time, the giver was especially glad she had shared her bounty.
It was a lovely summer day.  My mother and I were walking past our neighbor Dorothy working in her garden.  My mother stopped to admire one of Dorothy's roses.
"I've never seen such a beautiful lavender rose, blending into silver at the edge of the petals.  Would you mind if I choose one to enjoy?" she asked Dorothy.  Proud of her special lavender rosebush, Dorothy was delighted to cut the rose and graciously hand it to my mother.  But the lavender rose did not go into a vase, as Dorothy probably assumed.  It joined the others under the lilac bush, protected under its very own glass jar.
That Christmas Dorothy told us that the beautiful lavender rosebush had been stricken by disease in the fall, and it couldn't be saved.  "It was my favorite," she said sadly, "and I haven't been able to find another to replace it."
Spring was delayed that year, but finally the fear of frost was gone.  My mother was eager to uncover her rose cuttings, each protected under its miniature greenhouse.
"I wonder how many of my rose babies will be ready to begin their new lives?" she mused.
As always, I watched in amazement as my mother uncovered her rose babies.  Carefully, she twisted the first glass jar from the warm earth: It was the lavender rose clipping.  Would that beautiful rose be reborn?  She spied a baby shoot, a tiny leaf peeking its way through the stem.  Indeed, the lavender rose was alive.
Mom whispered to me, "Wait until late summer, and I'll have a surprise for Dorothy.  I'll nourish our baby, and it'll thrive into a beautiful bush.  She'll have her lavender rosebush again.  It'll be our secret until then."
And sure enough, late that summer, Dorothy cried for joy as she received her surprise a healthy new lavender rosebush.
On the card was the following:

       Here's a small gift from my garden to you.
       It began the day someone gave me a rose, too.
       I planted that rose in the good, warm earth,
       And I nurtured it hence its happy rebirth.
       After you've planted this gift and it grows,
       To keep up the cycle, may I impose?
       If I may be bold, do you suppose,
       That I might request its very first rose?