The roses are here and, by default, so is midsummer. By August I only long for autumn – for amber leaves crunched underfoot, gloved hands and toffee apples, a breeze in the air – but these days, early June, are the glory days of summer if ever there were any. All winter I dreamt of this season, imagining lunch-hours spent sunning idly in the park with bare legs and peach juice running down my arms. My dreams are coming true, as seasonal wishes often do, and I am satiated on a deep and easy contentment. Fresh from the tube, I stumble drunk on blue skies to these roses, snapping a picture every evening in an attempt to somehow – anyhow – capture their ephemeral beauty on film.
These roses have a story, too.
Nine years ago, my grandmother forgot to breathe – her mind having staged a protest long before, robbing her of her memories – and she slipped quietly away. It was summer then, too, and by way of condolence my mother’s colleagues presented her with a clipping from a sturdy rose bush – a gentle reminder, perhaps, that nature turns in cycles and life does too. Every June since they have blossomed with the sort of breathless beauty that marked my lovely, blue-eyed grandmother before her memory was ransacked and left to rot.
Come July, the roses rot too. The heat is too much for them, as it is for me, and their petals slowly fade to brown, floating to the ground and collecting in white puddles on the grass. It is a poignant reminder that things come, things go. There’s always next June to look forward to, after all, and there is a solemn comfort in the thought that roses the world over will continue to bloom even when I am no longer here to see them.
Nature reinvests its energy anew – and these roses remind me that though my grandmother’s golden hair and impish blue eyes have returned to the dust from which she – we all – came, the blue of the sky and sunlight spun gold are astonishing manifestations of her grace anew.
To the roses, therefore. To my grandmother and her green fingers. To midsummer. Stop to smell the roses, won’t you?
Last year’s ode to the roses.