Listen to this article

I tiptoed into the house, leaving wet piggy-toe prints on the wood floor. I’d been outside contemplating nature. More accurately, where I wanted Thomas to plant nature.

“Wouldn’t lilacs look pretty on the side of the house?” I asked him.

“Yes, they would,” he sipped his coffee.

“Too bad there are roses there.” I opened the fridge and pulled out my breakfast.

“Yes, too bad.”

Dude, two plus two is four, I thought. He knows what I want.

“It’d be great if they could dig themselves up,” I laughed, spraying whipped cream on top of my pumpkin pie.

“It would be great,” he said.

Wow! He was making me work for it.

“What are your weekend plans?” I asked.

“I have a conference in Houston.”

“That’s right,” I said. “It’s supposed to rain the next 10 days, and the rose bushes need to come out.”

“I guess it’s up to you.”

“But I don’t want to do it,” I whined. “It’s nature, and nature is dirty.”

“How badly do you want them gone?”

“Pretty bad.”

“There’s your answer.”

Please, my answer was hiring someone.And that’s what I did.For the remainder of the week, I talked to our rose bushes. “Nothing against you, but I like lilacs better. Everything must come to an end. It’s not you; it’s me.”

Saturday morning, before the landscaping crew arrived, I had a final chat with our roses … Footloose-style.

“I want you to know we appreciated you, but it’s time to relocate, most likely to the dump.” I cleared my throat. “Ecclesiastes 3:1-2: To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” I paused. “It’s time for you to be plucked up.”

In poetic fashion, I plucked a rose from a bush. “Ouch!” I sucked my thumb. “Stupid thorns.”

My phone rang, and caller ID displayed the landscaper’s number.

“Hello,” I said.

“Hi, this is Dan.”

“Hi, Dan! How are you?”

“Not good.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “Do you have the flu?”

“I think food poisoning.”

“That’s terrible,” I said.

“Actually, the entire crew has food poisoning.”


“I’m sorry, but we’ll need to reschedule.”“OK, hope you feel better soon. Goodbye.”

I looked at the rose bushes, “I guess it’s just you and me.”

So, here’s the thing about our roses. There were six of them, and they were planted when our house was built, 15 years prior. The soil was clay, and a three-inch-deep layer of small black pieces of shale covered the 4-foot-by-30-foot flower bed. Corner houses have a lot of real estate.

I spent the entire weekend digging. There was no plucking. It was straight up war. I wasn’t casting away stones, I was throwing them. There were lots of thorns and lots of weeping. I did some losing, like my temper, and some speaking, very loudly.

The roots, of all six bushes, grew three feet down and three feet wide. My amazing neighbor had pity on me and gave me some real tools, like a Sawzall.Power tools … YES!

I didn’t know if the days of working in the hot sun had addled my noodle, but as I stabbed my shovel into the hole, it hit something hard. I scraped away the dirt and continued scraping, determined to remove the offensive piece of nature. I didn’t care how long it took; I was getting it out.Except, before I was finished, I figured out what I had found.

And then, of course, I couldn’t keep silent, and when the young neighbor kids rode their bikes past, I stopped them.

“Hey, what does this look like to you?” I pointed into the hole.

We unanimously agreed … a human skull. And it was time to call it quits.

I was not about to become entangled in a murder. I mean, it’s not my fault someone was buried beneath my rose bush. That’s straight up mafia. It was time to call in the calvary and hopefully firemen.

I was on my second glass of vino when Thomas arrived home. “What happened to our yard? It’s a wreck, and there are police everywhere.”

“I found a dead body.”

“You found a what?”

“A dead body.”

There was a knock on the screen door and a police officer on the other side. “Ma’am, we’ve finished excavating your property.”

“How many bodies did you find?” I asked.



“Yes, four cats and one dog,” the police officer said. “It looks like the previous owners buried their deceased pets and used rose bushes as headstones.”

“Out of curiosity, which skull was mine?”

“Oh, you didn’t find a skull. It was a rock.”

“A rock?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“Thomas,” my lip quivered. “I’m sorry about the yard.”

“Never a dull moment,” he hugged me. “On a positive note, good job getting the roses out.”

Krista Vance is a former Champaign resident. While she now calls northern Colorado home, she spent five wonderful years in Champaign and misses great friends, corn and big-sky sunsets.