The house where I was born was trimmed in roses. It was a clapboard home, previously owned by a retired World War II veteran. The old soldier was crazy for roses.
The story goes that after returning from the War, the soldier spent weeks turning his humble yard into a Victory Garden. Over time the backyard became a veritable explosion of reds, pinks, whites, and vivid colors.
The central attractions of the Victory Garden were, without doubt, the “Peace” roses. Ivory white with crimson fringe. They were heart stopping.
And it was among these roses where I took my first infant steps. My mother was deadheading flowers. It was summer. And I was hobbling beneath dappled sunlight, surrounded by an old soldier’s Peace roses.
Of course I don’t remember much from this early period of life, except that I habitually filled my onesies with poop. But for some odd reason, I do recall Peace roses.
There are some things you just don’t forget.
The earliest fossilized evidence of roses dates back to
the Cenozoic Era. Your high-school biology textbook will tell you roses are 35 million years old. These flowers predate nearly everything, including the Cascade Mountains, the dinosaurs, and “Gunsmoke.”
Roses were a big deal in ancient China, ancient Greece, and pretty much everywhere else too. In ancient Rome they were the flowers of the gods, a concept later inherited by ancient Christians. There’s a reason they call it “praying the Rosary.”
I tell you all this not to bore you until you experience brain death, but because this particular flower is intertwined with the history of our species.
Americans have been obsessed with roses for generations. When colonists came to these shores, one of the few luxuries many immigrant women brought with them were clippings from heirloom roses back home.
Although those colonists were in for a treat because this continent was already doing just fine in the…