Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stop and smell the roses

While my DH was enduring the difficult, intense year of pilot training, we lived in base housing on Columbus AFB, in Mississippi.  It was our first experience living on a military base.  The housing was old, dating back to what was rumored the 1950's.  However the 3 bedroom duplex was more space than our previous 2 bedroom apartment we had in Las Vegas.  It was sturdy, built in the days when things were made to last, had a small back yard and surprisingly large front yard, covered carport, and roses planted by the front windows.  The streets were named after state capitols, (we lived on Albany) and because the housing had been there awhile, the trees were large and full, and gave the neighborhood a safe, friendly, suburban feel.

There seemed to be an unspoken connection we all felt with our neighbors.  Everyone wanted to know each other, be friends, have barbecues, go on walks, take kids to the park, and be supportive when the pressures of being military families were keenly felt.  We were often seen chatting in front yards, bouncing babies on our hips, and pausing every 4 minutes or so as little trainer planes flew overhead, temporarily drowning out conversation.  We made some of our very best friends during our stay in Columbus, and keep in close contact with most of them.

The pilot training part was horrible.  In an effort to weed out less capable or dedicated potential pilots, the Air Force is not kind to it's students there.  It seemed their goal to make grown men cry, and hang their hopes and dreams of flight on a tangible thread, ready to break at any second.  Perhaps that's why everyone was so friendly.  It's a stressful time endured by all, which created a natural bond everyone shared.  Despite that deeply rooted stress and the trials that came with it, my memories of Columbus are fond ones.

I'd like to go back to the roses that were planted in front of our half of the little duplex we stayed in.  Those outside of the military may or may not know know this, but if a serviceman chooses to live off base, he receives a housing allowance.  If he lives on base, he does not get that allowance, but his housing there is free.  Because the housing is free, you'd expect most families wouldn't put forth much effort in upkeep.  While that tends to be true with welfare provided government housing, from my small bit of experience I saw it wasn't the case with the tenants of base military housing.  Other than mowing the lawn regularly, and keeping the indoors clean and undamaged, there were no rules or requirements to keep.  However families often put a surprising amount of effort into those temporary homes.  They painted walls, planted grass, added flowerbeds, or in our case, roses.  I was very touched when I thought of the people who lived in our home before us, and planted those three rose bushes.  They obviously planted them knowing they wouldn't see them for very long.  I saw it as a selfless act of kindness towards me, someone they'd never meet or know.  He or she may not have planted them specifically for me, but they didn't have to plant them at all, and I benefited from their efforts.  The bushes were obviously well tended.  During our first Easter in Columbus, there were big blossoms, a perfect blend of pink and yellow.  A sweet coincidence - they just happened to be colored the same as the roses I carried in my bridal bouquet.  I will always be grateful to that nameless stranger, who shared with us her roses.

Here's a picture we took on Anny's first Easter Sunday, in front of one of the pretty bushes.  By the time we left Columbus, that bush had grown tall enough to see it from the windows inside, and the blossoms were the size of salad plates!

Inspired by those first rose bushes in Columbus, I've decided to set a tradition.  Even though we're living off base for this assignment, and as our family grows that will most likely be the most convenient choice, in each new home we have, with each new military move, I too will plant roses.  If possible I will plant them in the front yard, by the front windows.  Realistically I know we may not always live in locations where roses thrive.  But where I can, I want to pass on the same kind gesture that was shown me.  I also like the romantic thought that we will leave a trail of roses behind us as we move every 3-5 years.

I planted a little red bush in front of my girls' bedroom window last year, and to my delight, it flourished.  I was worried our sandy soil would lack the necessary nutrients for a bush to grow, but it's doubled in height and size!  Due to last years success, I planted 3 more bushes in the front yard, and 2 in the back.  Here are some pictures of our new little friends.  May they bring happiness to all who live here!

  This one was described as pale pink, but I think it's more of a lavender, very pretty.  

 Look at how beautiful this blossom is!!  It makes me happy every time I go outside and see it!  

I was only going to get two more bushes for the front yard, but this ambitious little pink one with the one tall branch reaching for the stars, was calling my name.  I couldn't leave her there!  
             This is the first bloom to show from the red bush I planted last year.  Sweet and promising!   


  1. I often miss CAFB too and Albany St! What a fun adventure for us all!

  2. I remember your roses in Columbus. We had a good time there! We were so lucky to have you guys as our closest friends!

  3. What a great tradition to continue.

  4. What a beautiful tradition! I love the idea. We miss our Columbus days too. Those were good times. That's how I still picture your little Anny! :)

  5. You inspire me, Lizzy. Always have, always will. That's one of the first things I want to do in our home in Kentucky, (if it's allowed). There are few things that lift my spirits more than fresh roses.

  6. This was a very touching post, Lizzy. Love you, your kindness & sentiment.

  7. Ps. Where is the music? I sometimes log on to your blog, just so i can have it playing in the background. :)

    1. The website I streamed the music from no longer allows their players to play on blogs or websites, just on their own website. Lame, huh?