Roses are ordinarily in blossom by June in our north country, that is, the old fashioned varieties to which some of us still cling. One I am guarding with great care is a deep cerise beauty, semi-double, with a beautiful golden center.
This rose came from Pennsylvania with some early settlers, well over a hundred years ago. A root of it was given to my mother after it prospered in its new home. When we left the farm I carefully carried my root with me. It is just settling in here now, and will have to be left undisturbed for several years.
What makes this rose all the more meaningful is the warm knowledge that it was brought to Wisconsin by the parents of the lady who became my spiritual mother. Her name was Mary Wilsie, and as a girl I looked up to this woman as the kind of person I would like to pattern my life after.
There is also one plant of monkshood given me by a neighbor, Mabel Krohn. She was a good friend, as well. On this I am showering special care. Each summer her lovely deep blue flowers bring back memories of Mabel and our friendship.
And have you ever owned a fern-leafed peony? Mine is something special! The first root was given to me all of twenty years ago. It wasn't in the best place at the farm, and never came to the perfection it is attaining here. One is instructed never to let the blossoms be removed from the plant with long stems attached, if you want a nice specimen plant. This is what Wayside Gardens of Mentor, Ohio, tell in their catalog. So, if I ever pick one of the deep red flowers it gets put in a rose bowl and floats.
This unusual plant was given to me by a lady called 'the Talky Lady' by our growing youngsters. She was a jolly German lady with the fastest moving tongue I have ever seen.
Perhaps this is why gardening holds such interest for so many older women. Our love and care can be poured out on these after our children are gone and on their own. And, through them, we keep on learning how important nurture and care are, in growing things, both human, and in the plant world. This summer will be my first experience with compost. I have a nice binful ready to use.
Patience also enters into our labor. One learns by reading, and sometimes experience, that the Dictamus, or gas plant (as it is commonly called) must not be disturbed once it is established.
In my neighborly generosity I once gave away so many roots of my hosta lilies that I almost lost several varieties. That had to be discontinued. Now my plants are gorgeous.
As I began refilling the compost bin with all kinds of refuse it is an intriguing thought that this will eventually be turned into beauty. And when we let our thought processes run into the fields of words with which a writer works, we also find interesting things. Take some four letter words that are beautiful and wholesome. 'Love' heads the list. A 'rose' gives beauty and frangrance. 'Work' is a blessing for our hands, and often our whole being. 'Soap' keeps us clean and presentable.
'Joy' contains only three letters but it speaks of volumes of living. 'War' by contrast, are three letters containing untold misery, and brutality brought on by greed and hate.
Only recently I was shocked and dismayed by the choice of a book of poetry which was chosen for publication by a supposedly distinguished group of personages. It had one four letter word in it which I can't even find in my dictionary. And one couldn't even partially sanction their use as descriptive of character or necessary for emphasis. They were just crude expressions of dirty minds.
'Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely - Think on these things' St. Paul advises us.
And whether we like it or not, we become shaped by our thinking. Freedom to become lewd only binds us by sin's chains. This is an eternal principle and does not change. We must have our hearts set free by repentance. Then God's forgiveness can give a fresh start.
But again, care must be taken as with our fragile flowers. And there are always the memories of those who knew us when our lives were soiled by unclean speech and living. They don't easily forget. How much better to never let this evil in!
Have you ever considered what a difference even two letters can make in our outlook? We can be happy or unhappy, gracious or ungracious, kind or unkind, clean or unclean, capable or incapable, adequate or inadequate.
Three letters change us from being full of courage or discouraged, satisfied or dissatisfied, interested or disinterested, enchanted with life or disenchanted.
While we get all steamed up about celebrating our two hundreth year as a nation, it might be well to consider what kind of Americans we have become. A recent speaker I heard said we were 'going down the tube.' Certainly too much comes into our homes these days.
Last evening, on Television our Wisconsin city of Sheboygan was reenacting the ride of Paul Revere through their city streets. He was shouting from his horse's back, 'The British are coming! The British are coming!' It was all quite exciting.
We might do well, in this momentous year, to go back to the principles on which our nation was founded. CHARACTER is a nine letter word. CHRISTIANITY is a twelve letter companion we need. LIBERTY needs both to survive.
In a recently read book this question jumped from the page. 'What's wrong with the world?' And the answer followed quickly, 'We are!'