BREATHING SPACE

It’s been a good year for the roses

Picture: Stocksy 

For the very first time, Marisa Bate has grown roses outside her kitchen window. It's been a wonderful lesson in slowing down

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By Marisa Bate on

What a good year for the roses
Many blooms still linger there
The lawn could stand another mowin'
Funny I don't even care

I have had this Elvis Costello song gently playing in the back of my mind for at least four months now. Because, for the first time in my life, I’ve been growing roses.

When I say “I”, I technically mean my boyfriend, who discovered a type of rose called Penny Lane. Knowing I’m a huge Beatles fan, he thought I’d like them in our garden.

And then a spot of colour arrived. Small, full of promise and hope and expectation, and all the watering and waiting and warm summer nights were wrapped in those small white buds

I loved the gesture – and I love that fact flowers share names with great Beatles records and that it reminds me of one of my favourite Costello songs. But roses? Er, yeah, sure. I guess.

And now their blooms are lingering there, outside our kitchen window, and they are bloody beautiful. They graduate from a white to a blush to the softest shade of peach. They have multiple layers of petals that look kaleidoscopic and infinite. They have the look of flowers outside a church on an English summer’s day and I love them. Now, I get it. I get the roses.

But what I really loved was waiting for them.

To begin with, on the first warm-ish evenings of spring, we’d patter out and water green shoots. We’d stand looking expectantly at not very much.

And then the evenings got warmer and we’d patter out barefooted after a sticky day at work. As sirens would be whirring past or the pumping thud of a car radio, we’d stand silently, watering, watching the green shoots get a bit taller, with a few more appearing, wrapping themselves around the iron trellis we’d planted them next to.

And soon the barefooted watering of warm evenings in twilight became a moment of calm I looked forward to every day. It would mark the end of the day; it would offer a moment of silence in the noise and chaos of my daily life. It would be five or 10 minutes of lungfuls of fresh air (as fresh as it can be in south-east London). Catching my breath, waiting for the roses, standing in the silence of our little garden became a moment of meditation. And maybe my boyfriend and I would exchange a few words, or maybe we wouldn’t, but mostly we’d look at the roses and wait.

And then a spot of colour arrived. Small, full of promise and hope and expectation, and all the watering and waiting and warm summer nights were wrapped in those small white buds. Each night, new ones appeared. We counted them proudly.

And while the modern world tries to control time, those little buds reminded me that time waits for no woman, but we have to wait for the roses. And in waiting for the roses, I’d slowed down time. I’d made moments in the day I didn’t know there was space for; I’d created an extra breath to catch.

And so my roses aren’t just a tribute to The Beatles or Elvis Costello – they are a small reminder outside my kitchen to slow down, to be patient and to wait. It’ll be worth it in the end.

@marisajbate

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Picture: Stocksy 
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