Roses, Loss and Resolve

Rose garden at Happy Simple Living blog

Every June, the most fragrant flower in the garden blooms for just a few precious days.


The deep pink double-petaled roses are a bit unruly, growing from long, arching stems that resist all efforts to make a tidy, well-shaped bush.

Double-petaled rose at

But no matter.

old fashioned rose at Happy Simple Living blog

The scent of the old roses is pungent, sweet and spicy. The fragrance always reminds me of Grandma C.

The flowers, alas, are fleeting.

fading rose at Happy Simple Living blog

A day or two after they bloom, the roses fade and the petals begin to drop. Too soon, the roses are done for the season.

Rose petals at Happy Simple Living blog

The little rose bush is special to me, because it grew from a shoot of the rose bush that Pop’s mom grew in her garden. The rose is hardy, and Grandma C.’s original plant produced offspring rose bushes that now bloom in my parents’ garden, my sister’s and mine.

The simple home where the rose flourished and my Pop grew up along with six sisters was in the Black Forest near Colorado Springs, where a wildfire has killed two people, burned 24 square miles and destroyed 483 homes since it started last Tuesday. The Black Forest fire is the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history.

Black Forest Fire - photo by U.S. Army
Black Forest Fire – photo by U.S. Army

Each week seems to bring new stories of catastrophic weather disasters from around the world. It feels like the earth is crying out for us to unite and put the brakes on the cycle of endless consumption and careless pollution. If these disasters don’t get our collective attention, what will it take?

Black Forest fire - photo by Kim Singdahlsen
Black Forest fire – photo by Kim Singdahlsen

I was thinking about this as we drove through Wyoming last week and passed several enormous coal strip mines.

Coal mine at Happy Simple Living blog
Photo by Inf-Lite Teacher

As we made our way home, we crossed paths with several freight trains winding through the plains, their cars loaded with coal. And so it goes: more coal for more energy, more consumption, more pollution, more mercury in our food, more disasters, more fires—and of course, coal-fired energy is just one small piece of the environmental puzzle.

With hours to think as I drove, I wondered:  what will it take to change course and save our planet? I don’t know if we can count on our politicians to truly implement meaningful change, so I feel a constant urging to take personal action.

One thing I know for sure is that well-placed money helps. Money helps finance campaigns to raise awareness. Money can enable communication and help spread information. Let’s face it; money can help make things happen. If we really want to see change in our lifetimes, perhaps we need to choose strong, well-managed organizations that are aligned with our values, and support them with our dollars.

One such organization I support is the Moms Clean Air Force, which I learned about when I heard co-founder and senior director Dominique Browning talk in Denver. (She’s one of my favorite writers and I love her book, Slow Love and blog, Slow Love Life. But I digress.)

moms clean air force at Happy Simple Living blog

Moms Clean Air Force is a grassroots, non-partisan (hurray!) organization of more than 138,000 moms committed to protecting our right to clean air and educating people about what’s at stake if we don’t. You might enjoy food writer Mark Bittman’s recent editorial in the New York Times supporting the organization, and his findings about the connection between coal-burning pollution and mercury in foods.

When money is tight, I especially appreciate the group’s “Take Action” page, which has several simple efforts we can make to fight for change that don’t cost a dime.

What are your thoughts? Are you involved with groups or organizations that are taking real action to save our Earth? I’d love to hear your comments and ideas about how we as people can unite around this crucial, most-important issue.

rose bud at happy simple living blog

Our children, grandchildren and future generations are depending on us to do something while we still can.


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of 15 books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

12 thoughts on “Roses, Loss and Resolve”

  1. I loved reading this Eliza and admire your stance about our planet. Since I am not in the greatest of financial shape I can’t donate to such a worthy organization. However, I really try hard to conserve on gasoline by combining trips and run errands (grocery,bank,post office, picking up medications for instance) in one trip. We recycle all cans, glass and plastic and use our green bags to shop. It certainly isn’t enough to save the planet but it is one piece of the puzzle. Some people are actually scoffing at global warming – how ignorant they are.

    • Good for you, Patty, and thanks for sharing the specifics of how you conserve energy. Every action we take helps, and can you imagine how much better things would be if every person was as conscientious and caring as you?

  2. How fortunate you are to have that rose clipping as the original may not survive. I don’t contribute to organizations like you do, but I have taken my values out from the closet to share. I am well known now in my community for saving as much trash as I can and restoring it for new owners. I started a community garden for my apartment complex which is growing. And through the gardens and my other efforts to keep my community clean and save items my grand children are learning right along side me to garden, to make something new out of what others call trash. Just this week my granddaughter chose some fabrics from a nearly free collection I had and asked for cloth napkins, this week began a paper free kitchen in their home.

    We do t all need money to make a difference, we just need to live by our convictions and watch as more people catch on.

  3. Lois,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You are doing the real work in the trenches and inspiring others with your actions, which I admire so much. How cool that you’ve started a community garden! And I love that your granddaughter has crossed over to the paper-free side! 🙂


  4. The wildfire is horrible for all the families and people involved. So much loss of life and property. Hoping your family’s home is ok! One of my goals later on is life is actually to start a land conservation non profit. I live in a more rural area, and it seems everytime I leave my house more and more farmland and greenspace is being developed and built. It makes me so sad to think that in another decade or two there will probably be nothing left that I recognize of the open land around my home town 🙁

  5. Thanks, PH. Your goal to create a land conservation nonprofit in your home town is very cool, and I’ll help spread the word and support it however I can!


  6. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and thoughtful message. I think that the culture and world is starting to take notice of the problem. As we continue to see larger and more natural disasters, more people will take notice. We are all on the same boat and hopefully more people in take conscience steps to protect it.

    • I like your positive attitude, David, and I do hope more and more people start taking actions to change. Thanks for your comments.

  7. Lovely flowers. Wish we could grow things like that but neither of us has green fingers. Amazingly a mint plant that we potted outside is still alive though so there may be hope…..

  8. Good luck – the mint is a wonderful start! If it goes nuts, you might enjoy this article: 11 Things To Do With Fresh Mint.


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