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Growing roses is part science, part art. In years past I have had Floribunda, Grandiflora, even climber and rambler roses; these days I tend two small Knock Outs of no particular distinction. My patio is small and my time shorter it seems, but my pleasure no less diminished by scale. As plants go, they are no easier or harder to care for and do as well with attention as without: they are there and I am here and we circle each in turn. We seek a pleasing symmetry, a balance of light and water, an understanding of sorts but with a wariness of thorns.

As in many things in life, as they take hold and mature, the nature and amount of tending changes. Provide them with a proper medium in which to grow, proper light, enough water, and a loving hand. Gardeners, even rank amateurs like myself, must be vigilant against disease, damage, and death; we are guardians, jailers, and mentors.

Tonight, the evening sun is setting as I quietly smoke a cigarette on my patio, contemplating those roses and listening to the sounds of my son putting off his bedtime one precious moment at a time. His first year as a teenager, he is suspect of the budding rose hips, finds early signs of rot fascinating, and is slightly taken aback by the mild brutality he witnesses when, with bypass pruners in hand, I search a cane for the right set of leaflets and cut--moving from one to the next with assuredness tempered by years and a slightly jaded heart.

Tonight, I will wait and watch and listen. And I will say a silent prayer that one day he will understand that no matter how much he may learn, no matter how much he may experience, the world is still full of wonders, that tomorrows should harbor no fear, and that, sometimes, fatherhood is like pruning roses in the dark.

Edith Piaf, "La Vie en Rose"

Lynn Anderson, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden"

Guns & Roses, "Sweet Child O' Mine"

Grab a cup of coffee and join us. What's on your mind this morning?

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