gather ye rosebuds while ye may

For our wedding, eight years ago, we were given two Grandiflora peace rose bushes. They almost died the first winter, when we didn't protect them. But after a seemingly miraculous recovery, they have grown very well over the years, producing lots of large roses. They would usually grow almost 6 feet tall every season.

I carefully protected them every winter since that first one. But two winters ago, it was a terribly hard one. Bitter cold and lasting weeks longer than any other winter we've seen here. When the spring came, I saw a tiny shoot start on each rose bush, but then they both quickly withered.

Because of the unexpected revival after that first winter, I watched and hoped for another sign of life. For months I watched. They were our wedding roses, after all, and I'd cared for them for years. But nothing. By fall, I decided I ought to dig up the dead stumps, to clear room in the flowerbed. The roots were so deep and tough, I ended up having to just break off the first one. Then when I came to the second one, I stopped, astonished. There was a little shoot. It was alive.

Of course there was no chance for it to grow then, it was too late in the season. I knew also that there was little chance for it to last until spring. It had lain dormant through one long, hard winter already, then gone a whole season with no growth, no chance to gather strength from the sun, and now another winter was coming. But I covered it carefully anyway, and fertilized it. I'd at least give it the help I could.

But I wasn't very hopeful for that rose bush this spring when I uncovered it. How could it possibly have survived? I kept looking for life, wanting to see it, all the while telling myself that looking didn't make much sense.

Until one day when I looked and noticed a funny-looking plant poking out of the soil next to the dead, broken stump of the rose bush. Heather confirmed it. It was a rose shoot. Soon the shoot was bigger, and another had appeared next to it. By the end of the summer, those tender little shoots will probably be taller than me.

Somehow this little saga seems important, like a sign or something. Of what, I'm not sure. But it feels very reassuring and hopeful. And I'm really going to enjoy seeing those beautiful, delicate roses unfolding again.

[p.s. Here's how it looked a few months later]

[p.p.s. And at the end of the next season...]