I’ve had a yellow rose bush in a terra cotta pot for maybe twenty-five years. I’ve dragged it from house to house. Two years ago I planted it near my front porch trimming it back severely. Last year its stems barely grew. I wondered whether the paltriness of its leaves could gather light or store sustaining sugars. I thought I killed it. Nonetheless, in the fall I cut it back but less harshly.
This spring it leafed out fully on long thorny stems—though thinner than those of its past. Returning home after work travel, it was awash with small deeply red roses. The bush had always borne yellow roses. The tiny red ones were gorgeous in a natural way—though quite unlike the corollas of its former domesticated self. I looked across the commons area into my neighbor’s yard: It was bursting with a plethora of large beautiful colorful roses—ones most of us have been taught to appreciate.
I had killed my rose alright. Well, rather, I killed its domesticated yellow cultivated parts. Those bits long ago grafted onto a wild and natural red rose rootstock—in whose beauty I now reveled. The next morning my roses were gone. Deer got them, and they’ve dined on buds all summer. It’s late summer as I write this and autumn is in the air. As I look out my window, I see a wholly natural rose bearing long thorny stems and lots of leaves. Next year I’ll keep the deer away: I want this rose’s undomesticated beauty.
For years I stewarded my life as I had the rose being equally harsh with myself. I didn’t know this though, and am I’m only now getting it. Domestication is so opaque—so hard to see through.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve longed and worked assiduously to free my incarcerated self from the falsity and folly of domestication—though all the while being my own worst enemy. I’m changed and changing. I’m grateful. Something of wildness is flowering within.
Let’s toast to the growing and developing sufficiently to keep the ego in its proper place—that of serving our Essential rootstock.