Requiem for a Rosebush

The Lovely Lady Banks

The Lovely Lady Banks

For all the appropriate reasons, the condo board has informed me that my climbing rose will be cut down. Seems it's twining around the porch railings, which could cause bad things to happen to the structure someday. I am told that no plant shall touch the building, much less twine around it. Imagine the future damage. Imagine the incipient rot.

The rose bush probably would have escaped censure had it not bloomed its heart out this Spring, covering my whole balcony with little bouquets of miniature yellow roses held on upright stems, sending endless shoots cascading over the fence, like tracer bullets of a fine happiness.

I encouraged it. I wanted it to entwine those porch railings. I wanted it to festoon the fence. I loved that it showed signs of taking over that structure. I didn't see anything rotting or getting damaged. Actually, it sort of protected us. It made a barricade between my place and the rest of the island, between my world and the runners running up the street, the lycra'd bicyclists whizzing by talking loudly to each other about where to get lunch, the dawdling old ladies and their pugs.

Why am I reminded of Mao Zedong's famous double-cross? He once proclaimed that "a policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend is designed to promote the flourishing of the arts and the progress of science." And then, of course, all that entwining of the intellectual porch railings in China looked like it might threaten the structure, so he made sure to cut down every vestige of the flowers that had dared to believe him and to bloom.

This rose believed me when I encouraged it, but I led it into harm's way. In a world so full of human suffering, it seems mad to shed tears for a rose bush, but I am. Life is always putting out tendrils. People go around cutting them off in the name of order and responsibility and good sense. I know that cutting encourages tendrils. Perhaps encouraging the tendrils encourages the cutting. The blooming and the cutting seem locked together somehow, like the two singers I knew who couldn't stand each other but toured together for years, because the audience found their harmonies so sweet.