Written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black on 2 November, 2013

Digging was back-breaking, physical, sweat-inducing work.  As much as Mara liked to sit in her garden, be it quietly alone with a cup of java or while entertaining friends and family, admiring the perennials, she usually allowed nature to practice its superb craftsmanship and superior artistry without her intervention.  However, her husband, John, had a contractor coming later that day to dig a new French drain to help dry the basement.  The landscaper politely explained that his crew would not be bothering about any of the existing plantings.

So, anticipating their destructive arrival, Mara undertook transplanting her favorite plant.  There were many superb plants encircling their colonial home, but it was only one plant that could induce this labor.  Mara plunged the spade deep into the enriched Pennsylvania clay in a circle around the thorny Queen Elizabeth Standard Rose, with its six foot tall spikey stalks pruned to a more manageable two and a half feet.  Several of the hosta that surrounded the prized heirloom were included in the ring created thereby, a happy circumstance for the plants which otherwise would be discarded by the workmen.

Mara wiped her brow with the back of her wrist, keeping the muddied glove from her face.  Rubber booted feet pressed the spade head deeper into the earth as Mara tried to reach below the roots and lift the rose that meant so much to her.  It was a gift from her friend, Heather, who propagated it from suckers in her yard using her magically green thumb.

She did not see her friend any longer.  As far as Mara knew, there was no reason for this absence, only busy schedules.  Mara missed her lovely friend, missed her quirky sense of humor and her ready, witty intellect.  Mara telephoned her friend occasionally, leaving messages on an impersonal, tin-sounding machine, but it was infrequent that Heather dialed Mara in return. 

The rose stood as a symbol of their friendship in a way, beautiful yet strong.  It thrived in less-than-admirable soil.  Its beautiful pink roses had a delicacy and a strength, while the thorns protected it.  Mara knew with certainty that when their lives calmed down, Heather would sit comfortably again in Mara’s garden, partaking in tea and conversation, as though no time lapsed.  When that visit happened, Mara wanted the Queen Elizabeth Rose perfuming the air.