busy as a beaver

I found this small journal in a local thrift shop for fifty cents. On first glance, I was drawn to the cover. Memorandum Book with an illustration of a beaver on the cover, and the label affixed with the word “gardening” neatly printed in all capital letters. I supposed the beaver was meant as a play on the old adage, “busy as a beaver.”  


And then to the size, just right for a shirt pocket or purse, roughly 3.5 x 6 inches.

And then to the pages inside. Four pages of neatly typed notes on “Modern Ways to Ease Chores of Rose Slips,” dated June 28, 1959.

The year before I was born.  

It takes a special kind of person to type notes on gardening and affix them to the pages of a notebook. My husband wondered why the person didn’t just jot notes in longhand on the pages. He wondered this because he is not like me. I understand this gardener, or at least, I think I do.

For this gardener, the passion is consuming and she wants to know all there is to know about roses and how to start “rose slips” from cuttings. She has drawn a careful diagram in the margins of her potted plant with parts labeled, including layers of sand and organic material and even the drainage hole in the pot. She is thorough and she has set out to master her craft, and I would wager she has a vision of her garden as art. On the next page, there is a newspaper clipping from a gardening column.

Q. When is the best time to take rose cuttings? L. A.
A. From mid-June on. The best cuttings are the ends of stems which have just borne flowers.

And after this page, there are no more entries.

Perhaps she was like me and the burden she placed upon herself to type these entries and to master her craft became too heavy.

I hope she put the journal down and went out into the garden and sat doing nothing much at all.

I hope she tended her rose slips and shared roses with friends.

I hope she gathered roses for a vase and let them wilt and drop petals over her kitchen table.

I hope she made potpourri of roses and lavender and inhaled the sweet fragrance with great satisfaction.