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Moss Rose

This is a Moss Rose, another "find" on our rose-rustling adventure in the countryside north of Scranton this week. If you look closely, you'll see the green fuzz on the buds. Rub the base of the bud and an entrancing pine-y scent fills the air. These roses are very old, and were favorites of the Victorians. Moss Roses were considered the ultimate expression of romantic love, often used for Valentines and in china patterns. This one was growing in a deserted, 19th-century, country cemetery, right up through a barberry bush. Most of the rustlers missed it, but Nicole Juday, horticulturist at Wyck (which has a famous collection of roses dating to the 1820's), spotted it and excitedly called the group over. They ooh-ed and ahh-ed, and said this was a rare one. How bizarre to be finding these treasures, out in the middle of cow country, beheld by no one in the here and now - but us. More than a century ago grieving families gathered in this cemetery to mourn the death of a loved one. Many children are buried here, and young mothers. We are reminded of how dangerous childbirth used to be, and how much a part of life death was for our forbears. We live with death today, but not in the same way they did. Life was hard and treacherous and far more fleeting. Disease, accidents, pregnancy, lack of medicine ... We often think of earlier times as being simpler and somehow happier, but life for many was very difficult. Which is one reason it's such a delight to come upon these singularly beautiful old roses, to be reminded that they were planted here to provide comfort and beauty. Not for us, but that, amazingly, is how it turned out.