In the cool mist of early morning, I clipped spent blossoms of our crimson rose today. The bush burst forth in a spray of springtime fireworks last week, but recent rains sent its petals tumbling to the ground. Just hairy stubs are left behind, shriveling to lifeless brown casings.

Harold Phillips taught me this some forty years ago. Before he began a trailer tour of the Alaskan Highway, leaving me in charge of his lawn and flowerbeds, Harold showed me how to snip off the exhausted buds. If you don’t do this, he cautioned, they’ll sap the life out of the bush; but if you do, the rose will push out more buds and new blossoms will follow.

Harold was right. I saw proof in his flowerbed that summer, and now it’s  repeated in mine. A small bush where I harvested dying blossoms last week is already preparing fresh green squibs for another explosion.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past,” God said through the prophet Isaiah. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

Only if we remove the old growth.

Wind, rain, and hail last night announced the arrival of autumn in central Indiana. A blustery west wind drives brown and yellow maple leaves past my window this afternoon. Clearly, this will be one of the abrupt season changes that Hoosiers  expect and prepare for.

Months ago, one neighbor stacked a rick of firewood against the chain-link fence we share. Now checked and gray, those logs are ready to heat his family room through the winter.

Barbeque grills and canvas chairs disappeared from nearby patios well before Labor Day, and another neighbor gives his concrete slab a final dust-up with his broom. It’s not too hard to imagine a blanket of snow covering it soon.

I wonder whether people in temperate climates such as ours eventually develop an instinct for preparation, like migratory birds. We seem to know when it’s time to stockpile, cover, and bring our summer gear inside, well before the weather itself changes.

My wife will tell you that, if such a primal instinct does exist, men like me have learned how to ignore it. But such exceptions need not disprove the theory. In fact, our existence may simply confirm that another species is evolving–homo procrastinus.