Four months ago I had an email exchange with one of this blog's readers that resulted in her becoming the first guest blogger in the Land of Meg. Since then we have stayed in touch intermittently, which is lucky for me as ETG has written a second post, which I have the pleasure of sharing with you today:
My grandmother’s rose is in bloom again. I was astounded to notice this on the weekend, given the weather we have had over the last few months. There are few trees and what we have tried to plant has not really taken. I have managed to coax the lavender and salvia to ankle height, but sometimes, on very hot days, I can almost hear the plants emit sighs of resignation. We can’t be expected to grow in this, they seem to say to me as I walk past them to collect the mail.
When my grandmother moved into this house in 1948, she planted a magnolia tree and a rose bush, side by side. She was an avid gardener and in the long-past days of unlimited watering, this garden was exquisite, a cornucopia, a testimony to her skill.
To my dismay, after Black Saturday, the magnolia started to brown. It didn’t die and now that we have had a little rain, it is starting to perk up. But the rose, that rose, it didn’t miss a beat. It never browns, it is never defeated—irrespective of what the conditions throw at it. The most it conceded over those very hot weeks was that it would not flower. Perhaps there is a horticultural reason for this, but I have begun to see that there is something of my grandmother in that rose.
She was a woman defined by the Great Depression, by the Second World War. She knew how to do things, and to make do. She worked as a milliner and she worked as an ‘invisible mender’ at a knitting mill. So when I took a childish fancy to Lady Diana in the 1980s, she made me a pillbox hat to wear in honour of the Royal Wedding. Both the childhoods of my father and myself were outfitted with handmade jumpers, trousers, shirts, smocks and overalls.
She spent the last years of her life in a nursing home. One afternoon, she had joined in an activity making flowers from material, to then be fashioned into a brooch. She remarked to me afterwards that she could do such things with one arm tied behind her back, that such things were not a big deal. But they are a big deal now. Things that people once simply knew how to do are now specialised knowledge.
Like that rose, my grandmother just continued on. Not always happy, not always in the most comfortable of circumstances, but making the best of it. Doing, creating, and more often than not—as she gave to those around her—blooming.