Rust Rage

Rose pruning continues. When I got to 'Pure Perfume', I became very angry. No, not because of the usual reason for being angry with 'Pure Perfume', which is that it was named by the grower's highly imaginative marketing department--for it has very little perfume, at least in this garden. No, I was angry because 'Pure Perfume' was dripping with Rust. Nacho-Cheese-Dorito covered with Rust. Even the canes were heavily infected, not coated with spores, but oozing their very own orange lesions.

There is Rust here and there in the garden, as is normal for January. But 'Pure Perfume' was disgusting. I now had a serious case of Rust Rage. So I lopped off all the canes and started digging. The rose had to come out.

This proved even more distressing, because I discovered that 'Pure Perfume' had an absolutely magnificent root system. Roots everywhere, healthy, strong roots, feeder roots, anchor roots, all beautiful, all bursting with vigor and energy, all dedicated to supporting--a giant orange pustule.

No those are not all the roots. The roots filled a trash barrel. This is what was left. How I loathe pulling out a perfectly healthy, beautiful rose, a beautiful living thing, the carcass tossed in the trash--oh, wait. Did I say "perfectly healthy"? Okay, okay. I had good reason to pull it out. I still feel bad, but sometimes it is the right thing to do.

I will miss your beautiful flowers, 'Pure Perfume', but not your orange pustules. I don't want to remember you this way:

I want to remember you this way:

But I must keep both pictures, I must remember both. We may have lost a rose--or a loved one--and at first recall so many good memories that the loved one's absence is unbearably painful. Or recall horrible memories that are equally painful. But roses--and people--are a mix of good and bad. No rose is pure perfume, or pure rust.

The intense pain of loss just after the loss occurs gradually smooths and balances out as time inevitably rushes forward and away from this brief moment right here, right now. We remember the beauties, not the flaws, and are devastated by loss, or we remember only the flaws--and feel rage. A rose that is so beautiful in summer time is ripped from the ground in the misery of winter. A rose beautiful in the cool grey of winter may go unseen. Is that wrong? Is that right?

To look clearly is to feel both bad and good, sad and happy. To look clearly is to acknowledge both virtues and vices and see that they ultimately balance out. It is the wise way through the world, the way past Rust Rage.