Thursday, January 19, 2006


About an hour ago, we received the Final Travel Packet. It is chock full o' news, including our complete itinerary, our travel companions, and a helpful section--I am waiting for David before I read it--called something like "You Are Actually Going to Be Parenting a Real Child Soon." Well, why didn't you say so before? There's so much I would have done differently! :)

I got pretty choked up when I read the part about meeting Jarrah at 8:00 a.m. on February 6. Wow. From that moment forth, she will be with us. The rest of the itinerary assumes a party of three (or six, with Mary, Paul and Joy!) I can't even imagine what it will feel like, or be like. But it certainly is overwhelming to think about.

Of course, because I am in complete denial, the next thing I wanted to know is where we are staying. (This despite the part in block letters that reminds us "This is an adoption trip, not a tour." Oh.) I am happy to report that we will experience the famed White Swan in Guangzhou, about which there are legends and children's books. So that is cool. In Chongqing, we are staying in a hotel called The Golden Resources, which I suspect is destined to be renamed shortly by us, and possibly more than once. :) When I Googled it, it had no website, but some kind of Chinese "Metal Conference" bunked there and it certainly sounds intriguing, with its "secret underground city." Hello? At any rate, it seems on the new-ish side, usually not a bad thing in hotels.

This afternoon I did something I've been avoiding for a long time. When we first moved into our house last April, I fulfilled a life-long dream of owning rose bushes. There are four of them along our driveway, red, white, yellow and lavender (the gorgeous Sterlings, my favorite.) All summer and into the fall they've been blooming away at various rates, some doing better than others, but I've never had to wait long for another bud. Our neighbor, who is 80-ish and something of a gardening maven, had been warning me for some time that I needed to chop them back for the winter. Wha? This seemed so counterintuitive to me. Something is growing and blooming, and I'm supposed to lop it off? But everyone keeps telling me that this is the only way to nourish the roots, to give the bush strength to come back blazing in the spring, with even better leaves and huge, fragrant flowers the size of cabbages.

Please forgive me if the symbolism is not abundantly clear. It was hard for me to accept this rule of roses. It was hard for me to believe that the roses would ever come back. And so I've looked the other way, even as rose bushes all over the neighborhood have been hacked to sticky stumps. Today I felt I could wait no longer. I will be leaving for China and then I won't be thinking about what needs to be done for the greater good of roses. I hesitated over the first branch, tentatively snaking the clippers between the leaves, and I bit down. Slice. The branch fell to the ground, and a swathe of tight winter buds along with it. I bit down again. And again. The bush began to look terribly sad, with its finery at its feet. I kept going, and it did get easier. My neighbor came out to check on me. She stood over me and pointed with an imperious finger: "This one. Shorter. That one. Take the whole thing." It took a long time, but eventually all four bushes were denuded. My neighbor, who has the best flowers in the neighborhood, was thrilled. "They are beautiful!" she sang in her Romanian accent. "They are perfect!"

Beautiful? Perfect? They look like they've been through a fire. They look dead. They are bare and forlorn. But she knows from flowers, and she says they are perfect. I guess when you've been gardening for years you have faith in the flowers, absolute faith. She can see what I can't. In her mind, it is the height of summer, and there are a hundred roses on each bush. And me, bless my urban soul, I can't see them. Right now I just have to believe.


Anonymous said...

Jarrah Rose will bloom beautifully!
Just remember, unlike roses, there are no perfect parents, and no perfect child.
Best, Gail

Amy said...

Your neighbor is right...have faith. As a former owner of 23 rose bushes they always came back blazing in the Spring after a good hard prune.

Mary said...

Oh, Sam, what a beautiful entry! My mom loved her roses, too. Each winter she would "dead head" them. I know what you mean about faith. We certainly can relate to that. I have one tiny little bush that doesn't have enough sun or a big enough pot. But, bless its little rosie soul, it does come back each time I cut it back!