I was about to turn thirteen when my parents bought their first and only house. I had lived in a lovely, old, mid-town Montreal apartment from the time I was born up until the day we moved into our new home. It was a first for us in a few ways.
My first bedroom - I no longer had to share one with my sister. Our first back yard - where I spent much of my summer days soaking up the sun. Most importantly for my Dad, for the first time we had lots of space for gardening. He no longer needed to resort to displaying window boxes on a balcony railing. He spent a great deal of his time tending to his flowers and shrubs - a hobby which he enjoyed, and at which he became quite accomplished. We had beautiful blue hydrangeas, yellow roses, daisies, petunias, pansies, marigolds, geraniums, and impatiens in bloom throughout the summer out front. Vivid sunflowers, hollyhocks and black-eyed Susans shared fragrant space with a lilac bush in the back yard.
The house next door had recently changed ownership as well, and the Portuguese family who took up residence there had three daughters. Two of them were close to me in age, and we became fast friends. The Mom tended a lovely garden of her own in their back yard where she took particular pride in her rose bushes. My Dad was impressed with her gardening ability and they could often be heard discussing soil conditions, fertilizer brands and other gardening tips.
Every summer, my friends' mother would bring my Mom their first and last roses of the season. Its beauty would brighten a room as it breathed its sweet-smelling perfume into the air. I think about my old neighbours every time I see the first rose on my own rosebush.
This one is for them.