“If You Could Be a Rose…”


My knockout rose is in bloom again, bold and bright as it joyfully turns its face to the sky. I am pausing to admire when I realize that it looks several shades darker than when I planted the bush last year. Could it be the soil? The weather? Or perhaps the rose itself has decided it needed a different look?

Change is a fact of life, I think, and then I remember the game of ‘roses’ that my book club—a wonderful group that has been together for over forty years— played so many years ago.

On that long ago evening we were given paper and pencil and instructed to answer the question: “If you were a rose, what kind of rose would you be?” Decades younger when the game was suggested, energized by a spirited discussion of that month’s book and made mellow by the hostess’s decadent dessert, we all agreed. So, chuckling good naturedly, I scribbled that I would be an apricot climber growing on a rocky cliff that overlooked a waterfall.

What a drama queen! And some of the others’ answers were revelatory of character, too. The ‘rose’ I remember most was that of one friend’s unopened bud. “Will the bud ever open?”  We asked, but she only shrugged and said time would tell.

Years later, I played the game again with a different group, and my rose had changed dramatically. No waterfalls and no rocky cliffs for me—I was now a pale pink Peace Rose in a garden full of flowers.

How the times have changed

And the re-invented self

Seeks different light.

I don’t know which rose you would have chosen to be back then or choose to be now (try it—it really is fun!), but I do know that as the years pass we re-invent ourselves. For sure I have done so more than a few times.  Life experiences have shaded my perceptions of the world; of choice or necessity I have put aside some goals and found new ones. I suspect it is the same for most, if not all of us. If we are lucky, the years that have shaped our characters have been gentle, but even the raw, bitter times may have stiffened the spine and fostered both understanding and patience. We all know friends who have mellowed and grown wise through the years so that to be with them is a delight and a nourishment for the spirit. Other friends have become brittle and bitter; their petals, once fragrant and full of the joy of life, have been shriveled with frost. Their thorns keep us at a distance.

For myself, I look across the years at my young and self-important self and smile. The rose that I once was may hold my deepest essence, but it has had to change in order to grow and prosper. Now, knowing all that, I hope that time and change will always find me rejoicing in life’s garden like my knockout rose.

Though summers have changed

The bright sun is always there

To warm the spirit.

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About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: maureen@wartski.org/ My blog is here: https://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/ Or friend me on Facebook!

9 responses »

  1. Maureen,
    What a fun game! I imagine my answers would vary depending on life’s situations. Presently, I’d like to be a hardy “yard rose.” Not a garden club prize winner, or a part of an FTD arrangement, but a beauty in nature.

  2. About the same number of years ago, my wonderful Sunday School teacher Mary Ellen Cathey asked a group of middle- graders “Would you rather be a rose or a daisy?” It was the mid 1970s – none of us wanted to be a pampered primadona; windblown, staking out our own territory was where it was at.

    I have since learned that roses are not nearly the delicate things they were painted to be. Stubborn, prickly, occasionally beautiful even when surrounded by black spot and Japanese beetles. Put it that way and I can pick “rose”.

    • What a great comment, Kathy! I love roses… their mystery, their fragrance, their versatility. I love the prickly beach roses and the old fashioned roses that bloomed while centuries passed, and the elegant tea roses that never like my garden! My favorite of all time, though, has to be the roses that bloomed over my aunt Francine’s chicken coop… they were a delicate creamy-pink and their fragrance was so sweet that I can smell it now!

  3. Oh Maureen, what memories you evoke in me. I too remember the exercise in book club, but I can’t recall what sort of rose I chose. It may have been a big yellow sunny rose. Do you remember? Let us always be aware that the multitude of varieties that exist represent both our different personalities and also shift with the changes in our lives and ourselves. Thank you so much for again putting into words and images what we intuitively know but usually can’t put into words.

  4. Indeed, Fran… the fact that we are all so different… and share the wonderful ‘sameness’ of our humanity… it never ceases to fill me with amazement and gratitude. Thank you for reading, as always, my friend.

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