Maybe it’s because August is my birthday month. Maybe it’s because of all the back-to-school commercials. Maybe it’s because I can tell when Summer reaches her midpoint because the light changes. For whatever reason, the month of August has long been a time for me to reflect. I lost a bit of time this morning looking out my window at my garden, watching the butterflies and the hummingbird. The writing spiders have left. Did they complete their cycle so early last year? The sky overhead is clear blue – no haze to distort, no clouds to block out the color. When the air is this clear, even without the chilly bite of fall, the light puts on an amazing show, reflecting off every color in a most vivid manner. With the overbearing heat now at a livable level here in the mountains – upper 80s with low humidity – my garden has renewed herself and flowers have splashed color around her borders for my pleasure.
The first Mother’s Day I lived here, one of my daughter’s gave me a group of Knock-Out roses. I planted them in a hedge and they took off. These are amazing plants – disease-resistant, pest-resistant, winter-hardy through USDA zone 5, and heat-tolerant throughout the entire United States. They have flowered non-stop for me all summer, but with the slightly cooler days, they’ve gone into another flush of blooming. Butterflies and bees dance among their blossoms – my Knock-Outs are red, but there are many colors. Really, if you love roses, Google them.
Life can sometimes throw us for a loop. We get caught up in our troubles and the turmoil and we don’t stop to smell the proverbial roses (Knock-Outs smell delicious, by the way – each color just a bit different from rosy-sweet to spicy-sweet). I’m no different from the next person. I experience problems of day-to-day living, and sometimes it’s easy to lose the simple pleasures in the midst of our worries. That’s why, when August hits and I begin the process of reflection, I first take stock by gazing out on my garden. Its peace and natural beauty and order is nearly perfect, and that peace settles over me like my comfortable old Blankie that I carried around as a child.
This year, as I was noticing my Knock-Out roses, I realized that I want to be like them – and in many ways, I have been. Disease-resistant, pest-resistant, hardy in wide extremes of temperature. As the heat of life is turned up or down, I adjust. This used to be called “going with the flow,” I suppose. I’m at a point now where I can look back on my life, at my decisions both good and bad, and see that even throughout making numerous mistakes, I somehow learned, and grew . . . and survived. Diseases such as self-doubt, pests like the consequences and detours of my various errors in judgment, the extremes of uncertain times – I’ve been through them, and I’m still here. I’ve been blessed by as many ups as I’ve had downs. Life is a miracle, a journey to be savored for every little detail, whether these details are perceived as good or bad. Life, with all its wonderful up-and-down adventures, is a gift that I accept with gratitude. Will I continue to be exposed to diseases and pests and extremes? Of course. That’s called living. Hopefully, like my beautiful Knock-Outs, I will continue to thrive.