Valley Voices

Waiting for spring between blooms

Jill Simonian’s daughters walk the family vineyard with their great-grandmother Esther Kalebjian. The vines were fruitless and brown ... between blooms.
Jill Simonian’s daughters walk the family vineyard with their great-grandmother Esther Kalebjian. The vines were fruitless and brown ... between blooms.

One thing that tends to surprise people about me is my mini-obsession with tending to roses in my back yard. I inherited them from the previous owners of our house and have developed an unlikely hobby over the past years.

Jill Simonian Special to The Bee

Frankly, I’m surprised how peaceful I feel when I water them, prune them and sometimes snip them off the stems to pop in a vase and brighten my kitchen. Maybe it’s my Valley farmer bloodline – is the pull to nourish land is something I can’t avoid?

My daughters have watched me tend to our flowers like this since they’ve been babies. They play on their swing set while I make my rounds in the back yard with a hose. Spring has always been my favorite time of year and the anticipation of the Easter holiday always marked renewal in spirit and blooms.

Like every year, we cut our rose bushes down months ago so they can bloom again after winter. This year, it looked like our gardener cut them too low, too late. I was worried. Can they come back from this?

Well here comes spring. Every day, I’d check my roses’ progress and… nothin’. No sprouts, no green… only dull brown stumps of stems. Every day, I feared they wouldn’t bloom again.

At one point, I looked at them and laughed and shook my head. I’m being tested, I thought. Just keep watering.

My whole life, I’ve been scared every time I’ve personally been between blooms – between boyfriends (thank goodness that part of the program is over), between jobs, between kids, between decisions, between choices – I’ve feared the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Change has always been strange for me, I’ve never enjoyed it. This year is no different.

This winter was especially difficult, dealing with loss and deep change that blindsided my entire family. We were all cut down to our stems, lower than we’ve been cut before. Through these cold months, I kept pushing to get through what I’ve been referring to “the dark tunnel” – to will myself to bloom in family life, career, friendship and beyond through this difficult season, in an effort to heal.

It hasn’t been working as well as I’d hoped. Why? Because nothing in nature blooms all year round, and I am absolutely naïve to think that I could too. (If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll recognize this quote…) Just keep going.

This last weekend, my daughters and I attended Palm Sunday church service with my dad. In Armenian Church, Lent and Holy Week (leading up to Easter) is recognized as not only a time to grow closer to God but also an opportunity to become a better person. It is a time of renewal and resurrection. I wanted to feel it, but I’m still cut down… between blooms.

The next day, my girls and I visited Great-Grandma and picked oranges on the same property where my late grandpa farmed raisins. I looked down the miles and miles of vines – they were brown, bare and fruitless, between blooms. I found myself pushing back tears so that my daughters didn’t catch me and ask, “Mommy why are you crying?”

I wasn’t sad, but rather relieved. Ah. Not one thing in nature blooms year ‘round.

When we got back to Los Angeles, I went in my back yard. My poor roses had been neglected for several days, so I turned on the water and dragged the hose to my planter. I spotted tiny, green sprouts flourishing from a few stems.

They will bloom again. Welcome, spring.

Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno and is creator of She is author of the book 'The FAB Mom's Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby' for first-time pregnancy. Connect with Jill on Facebook and Instagram @jillsimonian.