A song of the rose…

From Prairie Star blogger, Lisa...

 There will come a time in your life when you know you are in the right place, doing what you were meant to do. 

A simple and beautiful plant has shown up again in my life.  Its unassuming nature, like those of many of our prairie plants, kept me from seeing it in the sea of other plants in the prairie, that phenomenon known as “plant blindness”.  Its subtle and beautiful nature is the epitome of a prairie plant.  A few feet tall, it seems quite content to exist just under the surface of the ocean of broom, porcupine grass, and bluestem.  Sturdy and compact, protectively thorny, it shows up with a five petaled flower of bright pink with a yellow center– catching the eye of the curiously observant naturalist.  Somewhat unassuming in appearance, but once spotted, its radiance shows up here – and there - and over there!

Five years ago, one of my teachers shared a reverence for this special plant – and I began to think of it as sacred – and somewhat rare and unobtainable.   His deep respect included use by the area’s first occupants – it was used for healing burned skin, as an eye wash, incorporated into smoking blends, with the edible fruit (the “hip”) incorporated into wine and preserves.  Astringent and anti-inflammatory, it was also used by native populations for nosebleeds, diarrhea, hemorrhoids and sore throats.  For my teacher, it also possesses a sacred relationship to the emotional heart, tonifying, uplifting yet soothing, nourishing the broken heart and allowing people to love themselves.

My residential neighborhood is built on farmland that was once an unspoiled, undulating prairie.  Over the years, roads were laid, homes were built, grass lawns cultivated.  This has happened in waves over the last 40-50 years in our humble neighborhood.  A trek with our dogs along a perimeter of the neighborhood revealed an ancient wood livestock fence wrapped in barbed wire.  Nestled within it, in an area that couldn’t be mowed, was a colony of wild roses.  My first sighting was years ago – when it shared a border with a cornfield.  I walked by it regularly, and developed a personal relationship, as perhaps only herbalists can do.  I clipped a few runners and potted them in buckets of dirt, eager to preserve a bit of this plant that had become so special to me.   They received consistent care and feeding, yet not one survived – perhaps preferring the harshness of our prairie climate’s extremes to pampering.  I suspect that the plants didn’t appreciate my attempt to force them into pots after their long period of freedom dating back to the original prairie of the 1800’s. 

Now the land has been sold to a developer and grading has begun.  The encroaching suburban lawnscape renewed my interest in propagation – this time in a protected place in my garden, where they struggled once again.  Yesterday, I found them with new leaves, nestled among the hops and grapevines.  I smile, maybe I can’t save the colony, but it will survive in some way. 

I realize that I’m part of the grander plan – it makes me smile, and for this moment – I know that all is right, and as it should be. 


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