Love Is A Shocking Pink/Purple SwanWednesday, June 03, 2009
My mother and I, when I was in my late teens, often discussed the topic of love. love. She would say to me, “Love is not demonstrations of it. Love is doing.” She sacrificed in many respects her happiness by working very hard to put me in good schools that strained her financial situation to the limit for most of her life. And I was most unappreciative. Instead of thanking her in some way I would keep on, "I want..." My mother seemed to think that outward forms of affection were secondary to doing. It was my father who I remember kissing me and when he did there was that whiff of whiskey and Player's Navy Cut with a hint of lavender. I loved his smell.
When my mother was in her late 50s she confessed to me that she missed that affectin that she had disdained for so long. Suddenly doing and giving weren't good enough. To this day I regret in not having showered her with the affection she craved. She had taught me too well.
This morning when I went to see which roses had opened I noticed a hybrid rugosa in bloom. She is Rosa 'Hansa'. Of her my rose bible, Peter Beales' Classic Roses says:
Schaum and Van Tol Holland 1905
Very free flowering. Doublem, highly scented, reddish-purple flowers. Vigorous, medium sized plant with dark green foliage. Excellent red fruit. This is one of the best all-round roses.
Hansa means duck or swan in German and Sanskrit. The Hanseatic or Hansa League was an alliance of cities and their guilds in the late middle ages. Whichever way you look at it that name, Hansa, does not have the ring of Rosa 'Emma Hamilton', 'Mrs. Oakley Fisher', the Fairy or Ballerina. It is a sturdy name for a sturdy rose that happens to have an overpowering scent (it goes up the nose like Keen's Mustard) and once it is lodged in your memory it is sublime. The scent has to compete with a colour that would probably glow in the dark. Subtlety of colour is not Hansa's strong suit.
Yet when I spotted her this morning I immediately remembered with a rush of pride and love for the person who gave her to me. It was my oldest daughter Ale. For a couple of years this "free flowering" plant refused to reward me with any flowers. Last year her behaviour was sporadic. This year she is coming in strong. I wanted to find Ale and give her a big kiss and a hug. Giving a rose to someone is most personal. It's not like a bouquet of mums. A gift rose is serius business. It is serious giving. It is a serious giving my mother would understand. But unlike my mother I am willing to admit that the giving is not enough if I cannot correspond in some way with some loving, the sweet and corny sentimental kind. Yes Ale, I your father love you a lot and I love and appreciate this wonderful shocking pink/red/purple swan.