Beginner's Heart

the author's

the author’s

In the spring, when my roses begin to bloom, it’s wonderful: it means winter is over! And I’m always ready. But to be honest? The fall roses are more lovely. They’re more fragrant, more vivid in colour, just overall more beautiful. And oh so fleeting — you know winter is ahead, not spring. Cold and darkness, not sunlight and warmth.

This morning I had a meltdown. I’ve been tightly wound these past days, worried about this & that. I’m not prone to meltdowns, and I never cry. But today, I found myself in tears because I wasn’t here when my beloved broke his ankle. I’m not dumb enough to think it was my fault, but I’m also certain (in my neurotic beginner’s heart) that it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been here.

Because I follow directions. Most men don’t. Sorry, it sounds sexist, I know. But it’s true: evolution has bred direction-following out of the male of the species, for the most part. Hunters need to be nimble of impulse, to catch the fleeting spoor of a wild auroch. Gatherers? We need to know where the berries were last year, and the year before. Directions, in other words.

Then too, there’s my peripatetic childhood. If you pack just this way, you won’t forget your most important things. And if you wear your lucky dress the first day of school, you will make friends. Not to mention the right pen for the right journal, the right way to recondition a pan, the proper method to do whatever. The directions — the history — the magicking of pleasing gods that always seemed so very quixotic.

Roses. You’re thinking: what the heck does this have to do w/ roses? Much less beginner’s heart??

the author's

the author’s

In the spring, I’m verrry careful to nurture my roses. I have an almost empty garden — the blasted grapevine has died back, and I can see to prune it even more vigourously. Plus there’s been plenty of water, and I’ve fed them, cooed over them. Come fall? Life has gotten in the way of good intentions.

So I haven’t weeded in a month (at least!), haven’t fed the poor babies. Haven’t done any of the things the experts tell you to do. In other words, I haven’t followed the directions.

And still — the roses bloom. Beautifully. Fragrantly. Not with abandon, but every bit as lovely and even more appreciated. Because I didn’t  EARN them.

So much of life is like this. I haven’t ‘earned’ the love of my sons, my beloved. Certainly not my DIL or grandson, who owe me nothing. I haven’t earned the love of my friends, or my dearest colleagues. They are autumn roses, offering  themselves freely.

I’m also thinking: aging isn’t a single rose, progressing through stages to death. Aging is seasons, and it’s autumn — at least for now. still filled w/ roses, some just buds, some of them unfurling, some of them wide open to sun & bees. I’m still learning. I’m also proficient in many things. And with a few things, I am sooo over them! In other words, I’m just as all over the place as my beloved roses. So it’s autumn. And today, the sun is out, the birds are at the feeders, and I’m grateful. The roses are beyond beautiful.

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