One would be hard pressed not to appreciate the beauty of roses. Juliet made the case that Romeos last name did not matter. A close up photograph helps a young creative man decide between a career in music or photography. Portland crowns itself as the City of Roses but they are not alone.

While I enjoy taking photographs of them, I really had no plan to blog about roses.

But in twitter conversation that started ogg being tagged with a group of others about the benefits of gardening, I’ve had the browser tab open a while on the tweet by Kate Bowles:

I see not only a luscious photograph of a water drop covered rose, from a place pretty much on the opposite of the world as me, but knowing something of Kate’s story, that a rose can be more than a rose.

As are mine.

Maybe 8,9 years ago my then wife and I bought a second home here in Strawberry as an investment. Her mom, Nancy, through as series of actions I know not of, had lost her home in the Phoenix metro area. Our plan was to rent it to her.

Nancy was, if anything eclectic. A highly flying executive in the 1970s (she had photos of herself meeting President Ford), a mental collapse shattered that world, and she made her way onward in doing crafts and teaching piano. She came up here with a baby grand piano. And she was also somewhere on the spectrum of how much stuff towards hoarder.

But she had a gift with her gardening. I might have crazy ideas what she put in her soil, but her flowers and vegetables flourished madly. Before she lost her house in the Valley, we dug up a rose bush, and it thrives now here in my yard.

I recall Nancy telling me the important of cutting back the rose plants, which I did for years. But about two years ago I decided to see what happened if I did not cut back as much. This year has more flowers on it than ever and one branch shot up about 7 feet high. I did learn that, like lilacs, they will grow best if you cut them below the last flower.

My rose is adjacent to a fence, so I get interesting shots along the fence line or beautiful metaphors when they grow through the fence.

Or when their time is done.

At one time I thought I read that cacti evolved from the ancestors of roses (from thorns to spines?). That may not be true. Sometimes you don’t have to find the facts if the story suffices.

And it suffices here because adjacent to my rose bush is my cactus patch, so often those rose petals fall on their long lost cousins.

The rose flowers are a challenge to photograph. Maybe it’s their intense color, or convoluted shape, but I often get poorly exposed photos. I keep trying.

I have nothing prophetic to say, except I enjoy seeing my roses. I rarely even cut them to bring inside. They are what they are. But I can also appreciate each time I see them my warmer memories of Nancy, who passed away two years ago.

The roses remind me of both beauty and temporality, how obvious the former is and how we downplay the latter. They are both right there in front of us.

Top / Featured Photo: One of Nancy’s roses cut in 2015. I am encouraged that this photo is dated in November, so I expect at least another month’s worth of flowers this year. This photo is mine a flickr photo shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Thanks so much Alan. I an honoured to be included in this lovely post. I shed a few tears, some of joy, at your poignant stories in this and your other post about your second mom. I really admire that your relationship with her survived the other breakdown – that’s a compliment to both of you in my book.
    The rose I shared with you on Twitter is a traditional climber Zephirine Drouhin that we’ve planted in an arch alongside clematis and honeysuckle. In its first year of flowering it has almost reached the top and gives us a reward of a waft of scent every time we walk through the arch.
    I have a lovely daughter Rosa, whose full name is Rosamund. When I realised that name was related to Rosa Mundi, I knew what to give her for her birthday 🙂 She is thrilled with it.
    Roses are part of the language of love, and not just romantic love.

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