crocuses, single combat, and a snow girl

Yesterday was Greek Easter Sunday and truly felt like the first day of a new year. After weeks of rain and cold, the sun shone brightly. It was the first day we spent outside gardening, the first day the ground lay bare of the snow that has covered it deeply for so many months now. We had no lamb to cook, no guests to welcome, only piece of earth reborn, waiting for our care.

I saw crocuses blooming under an onslaught of wild roses and resolved to liberate them. With what joy I girded myself for battle, putting on old blue jeans, work boots and work gloves. I took a sharp shovel from our rotting garden shed and headed to the site of my abandoned garden.

My husband taught me to dig up wild roses. Years of clipping them finally had convinced me of the futility of that activity. Year after year the roots grow stronger and deeper, ready to send out whips of thorns in every direction over my garden.

I put the tip of my metal shovel into the ground at the edge of the offending rose plant and jump on the shovel to sink it deep in the earth. Then I tilt the shovel and lift. In the case of the most established rose plants, I had to repeat this process over and over, uncovering deep, bifurcated roots like thick ropes. Digging deeper and deeper, some were so deep and tenacious that they had to be pried up with a crow bar.

All the while, the vigorous shoots of the rose plants wrapped around me, stabbing and cutting my legs through the blue jeans. I rip them off with my gloved hands and continue digging. Each time I effectively uprooted a rose plant, I dragged it by its thick, dusty roots to the pile where it would be burned.

The wonderful reward of this hours-long struggle was a liberated garden of gentle crocuses, opening their petals to the sun. I scooped some snow from a remaining drift and fashioned a snow girl to visit the garden. For her arm, I found a stick with fingers on it so she could hold a flower. I put pansies on her head. Even as I formed her, she began to melt on the warm granite.

snow girl with crocus

One more thing: I wrote a haiku about my single combat with the rose bushes. I called my poem “Monomachia,” but have since discovered that is not actually an English word. It means single combat in Greek, and I thought it did in English too. Anyway haiku don’t usually have titles.

with a shovel I fought
the double-bodied serpent
the razor-fanged rose

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