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Norma is a little lady, at ninety-four years old and weighing in at one hundred pounds of sass and sweetness. Born and raised in Arvada, Colorado, she enjoys the simple things in life such as growing roses, feeding the birds, and sipping an ice cold Pepsi on a rocking chair in the sun. Most days she is out in the garden tending to her roses or snipping off a stray sprout from one of her numerous bushes. If asked any one of her neighbors would tell you that the biggest part of her life is her rose garden, but more than that her patience and constant attention make that garden what it is.
The life of a rose bush is one of care. There are many different types of roses. Some are very small and the whole bush grows to be the size of a basketball with flowers only the size of a quarter, others can grow to be as tall as thirty feet, and some can bloom flowers that are so large they would not fit on this piece of paper all the way. Their colors also vary dramatically some are vivid white without any imperfections all the way to others that are the darkest blood red. Norma’s favorite are some of the hardest seeds to find and grow.
These highly prized roses start with a stock that is fully covered in thorns. Its leaves are about as big as the head of a spoon. In the spring these plants do not look like much, just a few nasty stocks, some sparse insignificant leaves, and some very small buds. While this rose grows, Norma has a week by week schedule of every step that must be taken to help all her token plants grow. This schedule has slowly and carefully been drawn out and refined over the last sixty years. She has taken in every detail of the process. From how much to water or not water, the ideal amount of shade each plant needs, how often to amend the soil, this list goes on and on.
In the fall Norma takes great care to cut each stock to exactly eighteen inches. Next, she gently packs freshly fallen leaves from the neighbor’s trees around the base of each bush. This is then followed by a neat white ring of plastic that stands about eight inches tall that she calls a “Collar,” going around the base. This and the leaves keep the plants from getting too cold over the winter. When the Spring comes, she packs away the collars and then picks out all the leaves. One week later she fertilizes each plant with “Just the right amount for each one.” Over the first few weeks, Norma is out there watering and checking each plant to ensure that each one is getting just what it needs to be the most beautiful it can possibly be.
In midsummer, all the work that Norma puts in starts to show. with each day that passes more and more flowers start to appear a yellow one here a pink one there until after about a week, there is a sea of color. There is a thick layer of blooms that when driving by look like a mix of a sunset and the foam on the top of a berry smoothie. Under closer inspection, one will notice a big straw hat with a yellow band tied in a bow on top. That is Norma perpetually out there working away. It is hard to tell if she is pulling weeds, cutting off the dead flowers, or just enjoying the freshness of the air mixed with the flowers.
As the summer rolls by ever so slow and quiet. Norma can be seen any time sitting on and old aluminum lawn chair just outside her garage door having an animated conversation with one of her friends or just tasting her Pepsi and watching the cars go by. One thing that never seems to cross her countenance in worry. When asked if she ever worries about anything she simply said “Why would I worry? There are so many other things to use your time for.” This somewhat care free attitude makes everything she touches come back to life. It makes all the small things that make up a stressful day seem so petty and helps put things in perspective. She is also never short of some wise advice. When asked about any problem she will never tell someone what to do but instead just puts out some well thought out simple advice. Everything she does is in a very take it or leave it way. She has her opinions about anything under the sun but she keeps them to herself unless asked and even then never expecting anyone to change. For these types of talk she will finish with, “Now that’s just my view on things. You need to decide what you believe on your own.”
For the longest time, it seems like there is this blanket of colors, until slowly at the pace of a couple petals here and a couple petals there they all wilt away. With Norma always out in that garden cleaning up it is hard to ever see the petals pile up though. Every time a blossom fades and starts to die she will see it and clip it off to let the plant send it energy to the other flowers that have bloomed or have yet to bloom. This principal can be seen as harsh to some but there is an inexplicable amount of fairness that cannot be denied. This, brings to a close September, and with it the end of another year. With that, she smoothly transitions and begins the process again, chopping off those thorny stalks, bundling them together with twine in neat three-foot long stacks, and setting two out each week for the trash man to pick up until they are all gone.
Norma’s roses are a genuine reflection of her character. She cares about every detail and will take the time to address each one. Her quiet patience shines through in every aspect of her existence. There is not a day that goes by that she is not ready with a smile and wave. She is never slow to give a complement that will light up anyone’s day. With everything that is going on in the world, she is a breath of fresh air and a reminder of a much simpler time and way of life.
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