Monday, November 14, 2011

Pruning Roses

Yesterday was fall clean-up day at the church garden. I remembered thick gloves, and could not fit my rake into my car, so I was given the job of cutting back the roses. Happy to do it. I should have worn longer, thicker sleeves, but no harm done. I took a windbreaker but did not need a coat at all, after all, thanks to the warm weather. The wind was feisty but the roses are in an enclosed area.

After the fact, I read this advice on pruning roses from the All-America Rose Selections ( website, but, if I remember, I can apply this to my own trellis roses, in late winter, as they recommend. Perhaps a little later than January or February in my weather/gardening zone, depending on the actual conditions this winter warming.

Meanwhile, I am pruning poetry, always a good idea. And still reading and marveling at Home, by Marilynne Robinson. I admire the subtlety and focus, the attention to the inner life.

Today I gasped at this, a description of the "black sheep" of the family, or prodigal son, Jack:

The brightness in his face meant anxiety. When he was anxious a strange honesty overtook him. He did understandable things for understandable reasons, answering expectation in terms that were startlingly literal, as if in him the skeletal machinery of conventional behavior, the extension and contraction of the pulleys of muscle and sinew, was all exposed. 

I am like this, too, so I identify with Jack, though not a black sheep nor a prodigal son. In terms of life narrative, I am more like Jack's sister, Glory, the good girl who came home to tend her father, after some trouble away from home. But not trouble of Jack's sort, as the paragraph goes on:

And he was aware of this, embarrassed by it, inclined to pass it off, if he could, as irony, to the irritation of acquaintances and strangers, and, she [his sister, Glory] could only imagine, employers and police. 

I am aware of and embarrassed by my own excruciating honesty and transparency and tendency always to make things worse by way of this awareness, so that everything I do is the "wrong" thing, only reinforcing the conventional expectations of those who find me in the wrong. There's no way out. But what a comfort to find a character to identify with in this, and an author who understands it.

But more than that, the man was at once indecipherable and transparent. Of course they watched him. 

That is, in the moments after their conventional expectations about his wrongness are confirmed, he is his usual transparent, indecipherable self, and I think I strike some of my friends and acquaintances this way, too. May they forgive me. I have, I hope, a good heart.

Blue roses thanks to Wikipedia and Wikimedia! And Christopher Goodband.

1 comment:

Collagemama said...

Need to read this through several more times as I need pruning depending on global warming...