A Rose Grows in Brewster

Every year around this time, a handful of bright red roses bloom right outside our condo. They climb along the fence that runs parallel to where we park our cars. Ascending as if suspended in thin air, the delicate buttery petals peek out between two evergreens and shadowed by the slender branches of the maples that shade them.

My husband is colorblind; he mixes up red and green, often not knowing the difference or not being able to spot something red on a green background or vice versa. Recently I asked him;

“Do you ever notice those amazing red roses that bloom outside our place every year?” I was pretty sure he hadn’t since they are somewhat concealed by other foliage and their colors might show up similarly, camouflaging them in his eyes.  

“No,” he replied, “I haven’t.”

I grabbed him by the arm, ushering him from our cars toward the thicket. I could tell he still couldn’t see, so I brushed the lush green leaves away from the blooms, gently pinching the cluster of new growth between my pointer and middle finger, careful not to get pricked by the thorny vine.

“Do you see them now?” I asked, raising the clinging pant into plain sight.

“Yes, wow. I never noticed them.” He commented.

It posed the question; how many times have I walked by and neglected to marvel at the beauty of my surroundings? How many times have I been transfixed, mindlessly scrolling through my phone, disregarding a room bursting with family?  How many of my one-year-old’s expressions, giggles or milestones have I missed due to distraction?  Granted, I am not affected by the colorblindness my husband has, and yet I hardly noticed the six heads of dainty crimson that climbed in front of a fence I come face to face with on a daily basis.  

It made me wonder, what else in my life have I missed? 

Pre-pandemic, I spent so much time racing for a train; I rushed to travel into buzzing Manhattan in the morning, and back to the quiet suburbs of home, at night.  I was constantly focused on the timetable illuminated below the iconic celestial ceilings of Grand Central.  The 5:27 pm train, if missed, meant I needed to wait for an additional half-hour to start my nearly two-hour trip home.  Most days, I arrived at the historic terminal drenched in sweat from the brisk six-block and two-avenue run.   

It has been said that what we notice says a lot about who we are.  But what about what we fail to notice?  Before the world shut down, I raced without noticing what was growing right in front of me.  How much had I missed when I didn’t stop to smell the roses? 

Having a baby has caused me to become hypervigilant and acutely aware of my surroundings, and yet, there is plenty that I miss.  The blooms, while adorned with tiny thorns, are a gentle reminder to slow down, peel my eyes to relish in the extraordinary, tucked behind the lush greenery of the ordinary. 

 is the theme for my writing group this month.

Read more pieces about notice from my fellow Illuminate members:

Notice Me by Adeola Sheehy
Noticing by Megan Vos
Nurturing Noticing by Hannah Kewley
For the Joy of It by Katherine Mansfield
Notice Me by Amy

Notice by Crystal James 

1 comment

  1. What a fantastic piece!
    "It has been said that what we notice says a lot about who we are. But what about what we fail to notice?" is such a profound question, one which I will ponder today (and probably all week long).