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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: The Lesson of the Rose
By Marita Vandertogt


The Lesson of the Rose

Adelaide sits on her porch Saturday, in the early morning sun. She sits and waits, watching the pink petals on the rose bushes that line the short walk to her house. She watches them bend and move in the soft warm air. Some of the bending and moving will come from the city bus that groans past her house every morning at 7:53, right on schedule. She keeps a hanky in her pocket to block the fumes from her nose.

Adelaide’s house is small; set back from the sidewalk and hidden behind bushes with scrambling branches up against the windows. On one side is an empty parking lot, with the shell of an old rusted Chevy from years ago. On the other, a house of tiny apartments, for the students who come every year now, with their black t-shirts and coloured tattoos screaming anger on innocent skin.

Every year their music gets louder, the bass deeper and the voices louder, echoing into the dark of her bedroom window. And every year, the city offers to buy her out. Wants the property, but Adelaide says no, this is her home. Where she was born, and raised and watched her own family grow. Now they were gone, but she had the roses, started from bushes her mother tended years ago when cars were the exception out front of the tiny place.

“Remember Adelaide”, her mother would tell her. “When everything else seems crazy, when your world is too busy to handle, when just one more thing seems one more thing too many, take one of these blooms into your hand and focus on the colour. The beauty of the colour Adelaide, by an even more beautiful Gardener. Step into His world Addie, and the craziness of this one will fade away, if even for just a moment.”

It didn’t always work for Adelaide at the beginning, but she learned. Like the time Jerrod brought home his new bride. “Meet Sassy”, he’d stood beside the woman, his arm around her bony shoulder, and patted her tummy as he spoke. “Yup”, he’d said, with a big white smile, we’re in the family way. And have a favour to ask”.

The house for the next few years was filled with children, and high pitched voices, and yelling and cooking pots, and scattered things. And when Sassy’s hands would shake in the middle of it all, Adelaide would take her out to the front porch, and down to the rose bushes that lined the walkway, and pick a fully bloomed head, and place it between the shaking fingers. “Sassy”, she’d say, “focus on the rose, the beauty of the petals. Stare into the pink till the colour covers up the yelling in your head. Focus Sassy.” And Sassy would breathe the perfume, deep and sweet, and sit until her hands were filled with calm once more.

And now, this Saturday morning, Adelaide waits, for the groaning yellow bus to stop outside, for her granddaughter to step down with her own bundle of baby. And as the doors swishes open, and the young woman steps down, she walks with heavy feet to where her grandmother sit. And even before they exchange the words of greeting, Adelaide takes the baby from her arms and walks into the house. “The roses”, she calls out to her granddaughter. “Take a minute first, and then we’ll talk.”

Adelaide’s house sits along a busy street, of new shops, and student dwellings, and a road of constant traffic. It sits as a sanctuary, for the noticing eye, with the soft colors of the bushes that line the walk, that whisper words for those who take the time to listen.

Focus, on the beauty of the rose, on the beauty of the Gardener.

And feel the calm.

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This article has been read 676 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/20/07
You have some really great phrases here--the one about the tattoos really stood out for me, as did several others. Really great writing, and use of the topic word.
julie wood09/22/07
I loved this story! Wonderfully vivid descriptions that made me see everything and feel as though I were right there. My favorite: "coloured tattoos screaming anger on innocent skin."

Felt as though I knew Adelaide, too.

Great message!
Janice Cartwright09/22/07
I loved, loved, loved your story. Only someone who has known the magic world to be accessed through the portals of nature could have written this one. When I was ten years old an elderly physician friend of my grandmother's introduced me to his back yard of winding paths, fragrant fruit trees in bloom, and flowers and shrubs that covered every inch of space. Thank you so much for a delightful and poignant read.
Dee Yoder 09/22/07
It is quite a beautiful story. I could almost smell the fragrant roses from your descriptions. I like the comparisons of the gritty city that has grown up around the oasis of peace from the little garden.
Laurie Walker09/23/07
I too am a firm believer in the calming effects of roses. They border my yard on one side, each one a precious gift for mother's day.

Watch how many times you use the word "and". It became distracting near the end. Other wise a brilliantly written piece.
Gabrielle Morgan09/24/07
I loved the contrasts you created in your story. The beauty of the roses and the peace of nature in a garden as opposed to the busy city street and the clammer of noise and children. Good images - I could see and feel the scenes.
Diane Bertrand10/14/07
Good story. The Master Gardener is also the Master of calm and peace. Thanks.