[FORUM]Savor feelings from winter rosesI woke up earlier recently because of the roses blooming in the garden near my window. Concerned whether they might have frozen overnight, I got into a habit of checking them and then rubbing my eyes. Although frost formed on their petals for many days, the roses, in full bloom, showed no sign of withering until last Sunday. New buds began to form in mid-December even after November. The hour I stood in front of the roses became even longer.
I belatedly set my affection on those roses because I was negligent in taking care of them last summer and also because of my curiosity about the secret of the roses that bloomed in red, white, and yellow, besieged by weeds that turned brown. However abnormally warm this winter may be, this year was the latest for the roses: the latest I saw winter roses at my house in the past 16 years was in early November.
When I told friends and juniors in school, who were gloomy as the end of the year drew near, they showed great curiosity about the blossoming winter roses. Most thought it was due to the warm winter. But a florist friend who believed that the flowers also closed a year as they converse with people offered an unusual opinion that the roses staged a coup d’etat.
He said that although some flowers die and dry due to lack of affection, they at times gather energy and burst into bloom unexpectedly regardless of the season. His interpretation was a plausible one: The sad feeling of the roses uncared for all through the past summer drew attention with blossoms in December. I cannot verify whether his interpretation had any botanical grounds, but I think he put emphasis on the importance of communication between one another whether they are people, animals or plants.
In a meeting with professors, I aroused curiosity about winter roses again. Although it was unfit for the intellectual group, the newspaper column, “Today’s Fortune,” emerged as a topic there. I heard some professors confess that the first article they read in the newspaper in the morning was “Today’s Fortune” about wealth, love and health, and when they had bad fortunes told, they once rearranged the day’s schedule because of uneasy feelings. This was a confession made by main players on the campus who should lead a life of more reason and scientific thinking. I saw they were suffering depression behind the two big shadows of the pain of the times and the economic recession.
I could not hide my embarrassment to hear that they were not confident about communicating with the outside world because it was too hard for them to take the life of a Hamlet than that of a Don Quixote. It was embarassing to hear that they sometimes attempted to get free fortune-telling counseling on the Internet.
Harassed between the conservatives and the liberals and cautious not to be made a victim of a publicity campaign, they ended their class in December. What warmed their hearts in the last class were a few roses that their students had left for them. The fragrance of the flowers got rid of the depression on the campus for a while. The fragrance of winter roses comforted the hearts of professors who had been busy helping and sympathizing with their poor students whose eyes swelled with tears because they could not find jobs.
It is truly an unsolvable mystery how winter roses could bloom in all their glory when they could hardly pull up water. The roses in my garden were frozen as if made of chocolate by the cold that came suddenly, but I like them the way they are now. This is because I will remember the fragrance of the winter roses that diminished our powerlessness and gloominess.
When the roses of December are gone, the roses of May will come again. At a gloomy time when the end of one year and the beginning of the next is announced, we should talk about hope. Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” is heard on the streets.
*The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Choi Chul-joo