It is, as we all know, very important to take time to smell the roses...
This is a truth that I learned while living in France and one that I'd forgotten during my first two years back in the corporate cage when I fell into the trap of allowing work once again to dominate my life. That's always a danger if an employee is conscientious and hard-working, a good employer will not permit it to happen, but good employers are rarely found now.
But when I moved to this little house by the green I found myself again.
And now I spend a great deal of time wandering and pausing to observe the walnuts, to pick wild cherries, to admire a passing dragonfly, to rescue tiny snails from the path and butterflies from spiders' webs...
And to 'smell the roses'.
In ten days time I will be at my house in France and I am hoping that my friends, who I affectionately call The Hippies, will still have roses blooming in their garden because I'd like to spend another evening like this one...
Roses For Love:
We sat in the garden, sipped our drinks and chatted about This and That and other such importantly unimportant matters.
As I sat soaking up the early-evening sunshine and inhaling the health air with its scents of flowers and newly-mown grass I gazed in admiration at S's rose garden
And then I could control myself no longer, I slipped from my seat and took a stroll amongst the roses stopping to smell their heady pefumes
Small, but beautifully blooming and fabulously fragrant...
And as I moved among the roses each one rose reminded me of someone long gone
A neat, dark red and delicately fragrant rose was Jeannie, my best friend who died in 2003 leaving a hole in my life that can never be filled. She was quite proper and grown-up and sensible but I could reduce her to helpless giggles with my silly humour and we shared a passion for languages that was quite wonderful. Jeannie kept my feet on the ground much of the time and I, for my part, often swept her off hers.
The large, slightly blousy orange-tinged pink was my maternal grandmother, Alice. She was one of those fun, fluffy, disorganised grandmothers who think it more important to bake fairy cakes than to clean windows. When The Black Dog hounded her I baked the cakes and cleaned the windows.
A prim and proper little bloom was Auntie Emily. She coped with more personal tragedies in her life than any person ever should, and she never spoke of them, or sadly I was too young to hear her if she did. She was a strong wonderful, my Auntie Em.
A bunch of yellow roses was my mother. A difficult woman who sought answers in addictions and, of course, never found them. She never quite got the whole concept of mothering and I, for my part, reacted by growing up independent and feisty and never quite understood why, until she died and it was too late.
A ridiculously orange rose was my mother in law, Millie. She was already old when we first met and since I was taking her baby son from her, our relationship could have been thorny. But we were quite alike, Millie and I, quirky, adventurous, fun-loving and, above all, devoted mothers, and so we became very close 'partners in crime'. Millie died on the day of my father's funeral. A double blow from which I am still reeling, twenty-five years later.
Now, I read once, somewhere, that rose oil is excellent for those who are grieving and finding it hard to move past a period of mourning. Which is fitting, given that all of those women who were most important in my life have left it.
The English herbalist Thomas Culpepper wrote that red roses strengthen the heart, which is perhaps why they are given as a symbol of everlasting love
For me the scent of rose petals takes me back in time and evokes the memories of all the strong and wonderful women whose wisdom and love I carry in my heart today.
And as I wandered through the rose garden and bent to inhale the intoxicating perfumes of each bush, I felt as if the spirits of those women were with me and I could see, in my mind, each smiling face
Roses, for love...