By the spring of 2013, four years after planting, the red double-knockout roses along the fence had grown quite dense and bushy. In early May, they were bursting into explosive bloom.
By late May, the same was true for the pink trellis roses.
The trellis roses had become our favorite photo backdrop. Above, our daughter poses in a high-low dress, a style that enjoyed a longer period of popularity than it merited. At this point, D’s blink-and-you’ll miss it middle school career was nearing an end. It had been an enjoyable and satisfying two years. With her involvement in drama, she’d found her niche. She loved performing in two musicals, both pretty good for middle school fare: Thoroughly Modern Millie (ensemble) and Guys and Dolls (at last, a small named role as Agatha the Mission Girl). While she’d never been exactly shy, with all but her closest friends, she’d been more reserved than outgoing, a characterization that was no longer consistently accurate. As for her core group of elementary school buddies, she’d drifted apart from some and strengthened ties to others. Despite her ongoing tendency toward extreme procrastination, she managed her coursework. She was on the cusp of high school. At thoughts of the new school year, she was understandably a little anxious. But she was ready to leave middle school behind.
Before the eighth grade dance (an event of far lesser significance than the sixth grade dance), our daughter sits with Kiko, who exhibits his typical nonchalance.
In 2014, the roses were still denser and more luxuriant. This is despite the aggressive pruning my husband gives them every year in late summer. If he didn’t do so, the fence and garage might well be invisible by now. They could, conceivably, pull a Sleeping Beauty’s castle number on us if we got very lazy. Otherwise, these hearty, disease-resistant roses need little care. From now on, the challenge will be reining them in.
As for our daughter, as with any teenager, we face a constant choice: when to pull the reins, when to let her run free. Like our roses, she’s easing quietly but speedily toward maturity. Once she began high school, it’s been one milestone after another, toppling like dominoes in quick succession. I remember very vividly her concerns as the first day of high school approached. Could she learn to navigate the confusing corridors of a much bigger school? Would the coursework and homework be overwhelming? She second- and third-guessed her decision not to go out for field hockey, as so many of her friends did. Try-outs would have interfered with our sacrosanct vacation time in Cape Cod. Would her participation in drama be enough to give her a sense of belonging? All those worries proved unfounded. Her freshman year brought many firsts. She took them in stride.
The summer after freshman year, right on schedule as she had hoped, she got her driver’s permit. On Day 1 as a new driver, she attempted the most notoriously narrow, winding road in our neighborhood. (I was cringing.) She was determined to drive as often as possible so she could get her license on the very day she became eligible.
Soon she was a sophomore. There were more firsts.
On April 1, right on time, she became a licensed driver. The day fell during our spring break visit to Atlanta. D was able, at last, to take my parents’ iridescent gold PT Cruiser out on the streets legally; she’d been circling the church parking lot in it since she was eleven.
That day she drove us to Callanwolde, an arts center housed in one of Atlanta’s several historic mansions associated with the Candler family.
Now sophomore year is over, too. Our daughter is halfway through high school.
This summer, more often than not, she’s out with the car, among friends. It’s just me and Kiko at home. His day is as full as he wants it: a morning walk, followed by sleeping in the sun, moving to the shade, then back to the sun.
And while our dog loves a ride in the car, he’ll never require his own vehicle.