Unit 18 Roses………………………………………………301
I had a prejudice about receiving flowers. Even though I had asked my colleagues and friends never to get me roses, they still did it from time to time. It was hard to conceal the disappointment that distressing me when I saw that exquisite white box tied with a beautiful velvet ribbon. “A little flower coffin(棺材)” was the first thing that came into my mind. It was true they were grown to be cut down just for joyous moments, but even so as I looked at the flawless bright buds waiting to open, I still couldn’t stop thinking about them sitting on my dining room table, drying up and dropping petals(花瓣). And all the while I was thinking, "pretty soon I’m going to have to throw those roses in the garbage and I’ll feel bad about that too.” They could be pressed in a book but either way it was all the same to them.
So pretty much I had avoided roses altogether until recently when about twenty rose bushes came into my life. The only instruction that came with the roses was to trim them off to where there were five leaves. Being somewhat overwhelmed about what I considered the difficulty to take care of the roses, I anxiously pressed for more reliable information and augmented knowledge in rose cultivating. Rather than received mystical(神秘的) flower knowledge from the experienced gardener, I was told simply to water them. As with all things, I decided to do my best and see what would happen.
The first roses of the year came in like a row of fire. Quite unexpectedly in the late spring, a row of rose bushes on the side of my house bloomed with a chorus of hundreds of pink flowers. There wasn’t much smell to them but as I had found out, every different type of rose had its own maturity period. While the other thinner bushes were taking their time growing their buds, these prickly weedy(似野草的) roses were past maturity and ready to be trimmed.
Knowing nothing about the physical structure of roses except the simple tips from the previous gardener, I went to shear them with a pair of kitchen scissors. Grabbing a withered(枯萎的) pink rose, I looked at its lateral stem. Every few inches were a set of leaves. Those farther away from the flower had five leaves while those closer had only three. Where the set of three connected to the stem, there was a small bud—nothing much, just a point of color. There was nothing like this near the set with five leaves but following the instruction, I cut off the rose here losing bud and all. After several hours’ work, a pile of rose petals and stems lay on the ground and I swept them up without a bit of remorse(怜悯).
Often while trimming the bush, I would watch the tiny world inside. Spider webs hung inside branches and while the spider usually hid from the scissors, I examined their homes. Some of them were dried and torn from their original foundations while others were fresh and shiny.
Even though the roses bloomed wildly in my yard, like grass in the pasture, I still didn’t feel completely confident in my knowledge of their care. One day while passing by a garden shop I went in and browsed through the flower section. After getting bored with the how-to pamphlets, I wandered around and ended up by the floral (花卉的) coolers. Down at the bottom were canvas bags, bucket and small pails crammed full(填满) of ladybugs(瓢虫)! The bag didn’t move too much like you would expect a bag of 500 insects to do, but I took a bag to the counter for no other reason than pure curiosity and the joy of having in my possession for a few moments a bag full of the gentle fairy tale creatures.
I learned something that day. While waiting at the counter, recollecting about the youthful joy of acquiring even one ladybug—a childhood memory was more precious than gold—I asked the cashier in bewilderment how anyone could catch so many. I learned that these ladybugs are grown, not caught.
On the car ride home, the bag began to buzz(嗡嗡声) and move as it warmed up. Once home. I just had to look at the ladybugs’ spots. Each one had four or six. Did that tell the sex of the bug or its age? I carefully cut a large hole in the canvas and held the bag over the rosebushes.
A few ladybugs weakly flew a few inches from the bag then dropped on the nearest branch while the majority, still remained crawling over each other inside the bag. After being shaken out of the bag, the rest hung slowly on the bush. A gust of wind blew across, and their instinct made them fly away in all different directions. Even though it was not the mass motion l had expected, for one brief moment l felt the joy of a liberator(解放者),as a compensation for their action.
Trimming off the roses became my daily work. After a time 1 went back to where I had trimmed before and noticed how the bush had grown. Even if a branch was cut to the set of five leaves where there was no bud, soon a small colored claw would appear, grow outward and eventually become a rose. Sometimes two would grow from the same branch and these in turn would create two new buds each. I began to notice a pattern and started experimenting. By cutting back to where the closest bud appeared, no matter how small, and no matter how many leaves it was attached to, you could double or even triple the number of flowers. I also found you couldn’t hurt the rosebush no matter where you trimmed it. The decision where to cut had to be made with figuring out where the most buds would likely appear if creating more flowers was the goal. Sometimes the decision to trim was made on balancing the branch one way or another because the roses themselves added a lot of weight. Sometimes it became necessary to trim back huge branches themselves when a bush grew over its boundaries. Roses, I found out, were not only delicate adornments(装饰品)for special occasions but also a representation(代表(权))of a kind of vigorous and enduring spirit. A rose branch held up by a bough(大树枝),grew up to the roof on my house then descended down flecking(饰以斑点)the brick wall with delicate, red or white dots like a watercolor(水彩画).
There is one rosebush that’s still a mystery. It never grows above two feet high and its two erect branches are no thicker than a pencil. Every few weeks, however, thirty of so huge red buds simultaneously pop up on its branches. Watching this bush is like watching a comedian you know who is going to slip on a banana peel. One day the buds all open and the bush arches from the weight. It has done this time and again with no damage to the branches so I just leave it alone. Apparently this bush has some serious business to work out and why should I interfere?
So I guess I don’t feel so bad anymore about the roses that have dried up on my dining room table. For sure I’ve trimmed back a hundred times that many since caring for my bushes. I’m still not accustomed(使习惯)to the thought of boxed flowers and maybe now I realize why. Roses that come in boxes are a mere fragment of the experience and perhaps the least rewarding part of the whole.
be attach to→★attack