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A little humor for all you enablers

14 years ago

I wrote this last year, thinking I'd submit it for publication. Never figured out where to send it, but I ran across it this morning and think it's something you might enjoy.
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In March, with snow on the ground and my heated mattress pad still turned up high, I made a promise to myself. All those end-of-season spring sales had taken their toll. The garden had become too large. The weeds were more vigorous than I. I had too many roses, the result of adding more every year like the rose addict I was. I found roses irresistible, but they required more work than I had energy. And more time than I could give. I had other things to do, including several pressing indoor home improvement projects. So I made a vow: No more roses.

Actually, I did pretty well for the first couple of months. I planned out my indoor do-it-yourself projects, worked up a budget, and figured out what I needed. In mid-May I ventured out to the home improvement store, shopping list in hand. The garden department was only twelve aisles away from Tools, so of course I had to check it out. I found one small display of bagged roses.

Bagged roses dont appeal to me. And I especially avoid bare-root roses from the big stores. They seem to get neglected rather quickly, for one thing, and the other problem is that theyÂre often mislabeled. After digging a big hole (removing a dozen boulders in the process), amending the soil, and catering to the every whim of the new member of the garden for weeks, itÂs disheartening to find youÂve planted something that belongs in the tropics.

So given my aversion to bagged roses from big stores, plus the vow IÂd made to myself in March, youÂd think IÂd just turn my back and go check out utility knives or porch posts. YouÂd think. But there I was. And there were the roses. They had just arrived, and looked so fresh and healthy. I was compelled to at least read the labels. What harm would that do?

Betty Prior! Now, that was an exciting find. Betty Prior was my mother-in-lawÂs favorite rose, and I hadnÂt seen one in years. It immediately occurred to me that I could plant one in her memory. No matter that she died 20 years ago. I loved my mother-in-law. Betty Prior fit nicely in my cart.

Also on the shelf was a hybrid rugosa called Robusta. I know rugosas will grow in my zone. Robusta. The name conjured up images of vigor and strength. It also conjured up an image of Mrs. Stumpke, a rather robust woman who had watched me after school when I was in fourth grade. Granted, Mrs. Stumpke and her cigarettes lasted less than a month in our house. But she was a well-intentioned person, no doubt long gone now, and suddenly it seemed cruel not to honor her memory. I placed Robusta at the other end of the cart, far from vulnerable little Betty.

The big home improvement store was located next to the big discount store. If one had some roses, might not other have them as well? There was only one way to find out.

Eureka! No, not Eureka the Kordes apricot floribunda. That wonÂt grow in my climate. I meant eureka!Âthe discount store had roses. Several long tables full of them. Most were bagged, but some were in pots. All looked simply beautiful.

The picture on one pot caught my eye. Clusters of the most delightful orange-pink blooms. A shrub! Shrub is a magic word in the cold north. I checked out the foliageÂsmall and shrublike, shiny, green. No mention of hardiness on the label, but shrub was enough for me. One other piece of information, however, was critical: the name. After all, I had a responsibility to fulfill now. The creation of a memorial rose garden takes careful planning.

The lovely shrub was named Lady Elsie May. There was a May in my distant past, but she wasnÂt someone IÂd want to memorialize. Elsie? ElsieÂElsa! I once had a dear friend named Elsa. She emigrated here from Germany when I was an adolescent. We were best friends for awhile. Good oldÂumÂIngrid. Or was it Astrid? Either Ingrid or Astrid, one or the other. So who was Elsa? Let me think. Ah, Elsa was her sister. ThatÂs right, her older sister. Her much older sister.

The pot, held tightly in my hands, hovered over the cart while I tried to remember how much older the sister was. IÂm a baby boomer, so that could make Elsa elderly, right? Or even . . .

Just as my arm muscles were about to give out, I remembered that Elsa had helped raised Ingrid (or Astrid) from a young age. My memorial garden would honor sisters everywhere who made sacrifices for their families. Lady Elsie May settled happily into my cart.

In the days to come I encountered many roses that teased me with names well worth memorializing. But they were all too tender for my wicked northern winters. Princess de Monaco Princess of Wales Peggy LeeÂJohn F. Kennedy. Hybrid teas. No to all four.

Julia ChildÂa gorgeous floribunda. JuliaÂs recipe for Soupe Au Pistou practically changed my life. And it was on sale! (The rose, not the soup.)

A Meilland shrub named CapriceÂa shrub? Named Caprice?? I had a Caprice once. A 1992 Chevy Caprice Classic. I loved that car. I lifted the rose tenderly into my cart. With just a little effort I could remember the sleek lines, the smooth ride, and the eight cylinders. Yes, my beloved Caprice was long gone, but certainly not forgotten. Not now, anyway.

Not like my indoor home improvement projects.

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