She stood like a lone beacon amongst the weeds. I pulled the green riffraff away from the ground and from the plants that were deemed “okay”. By “okay”, I segregated those that were intentional, beautiful, and to my taste. I didn’t bother to wonder what nature’s purpose was for the others. What made something a weed? The mere dislike for it? The invasiveness? The appearance, whether it was deemed beautiful enough to survive? Who was I to make these judgments? I did not create these plants. I don’t have the magical powers to bring life to earth, to find all life a purpose, to create an ecosystem so beautiful only our imaginations can conjure a possible explanation.
Yet, I tugged at the the invasive ones. The ones with long roots that spread under the soil like a road map documenting each street in America. The ones with roots so deep, no amount of digging found an end. I imagined somewhere in China, a young child was pulling the other side of this plant, wondering the same thing as I: Just how far do these roots go? I profiled the ones that looked ominous with tiny prickles running along the length of it. Some of the prickles were actually soft. But one would not know that until they touched it.
Kate looked just like a weed–just like the rest.
But, I judged too soon.
I made a brash decision based on her appearance. She was tall and lanky. Her leaves were sparse. Her branches nothing more than mere green branches, bending too far for any respectable plant. My gloved hand nearly touched her. I wanted to grab the wimpy stem, and with a fistful of crumbling leaves, yank her from the ground and deposit her into the tall brown sac next to me. The yard waste bag seemed like an appropriate demise–until I noticed a single perfect bud sitting atop the tallest branch.
It begged me to take another look.
Please don’t pull me! it said.
My hand froze mid-air. I squinted behind my large-rimmed sunglasses.
Wait, what IS that? I wondered.
Forced to slow my actions, I leaned in. My gloved hands stopped the weed genocide to now support me on the grass so I could get a closer look.
Tiny thorns adorned the stem. The leaves were delicate. The bud, perfectly shaped like a kiss left hanging in the air, had yet to open.
It was beautiful.
My gaze searched around the rose sprig. It had yet to become a bush. Creeping Charlie weaved its way around the rose’s soil space and into the grass. Clover spread in its characteristic bunches, easier to pull than the Creeping Charlie as the roots were condensed, almost as if they asked to be plucked from the earth. They wanted to make way for the rose plant. The feeble often lose.
I smoothed the remaining soil around the plant. Next to it, my finger hit a white piece of plastic. Almost quick to dismiss it as trash, I held back. I gave myself two seconds to investigate. I rubbed dirt off the side. It was completely white beneath the soil, except for three words: Kiss Me Kate.
Someone had taken the time to plant this tiny rose. Someone took even more time to firmly place a flimsy label next to it. To someone else–a previous owner, perhaps–this plant meant something.
And I almost pulled it.
I moved down the garden’s edge. I looked back at the bud.
Kiss Me Kate, I said.