June 28, 2011
I left these roses about eight hours ago and their scent is still with me.
For two weeks in June, when dry is good, these flowers are the only thing that can compare scent of rain on sage. They are just like Nevada (and wild Nevadans) in their sunny, hearty, and wildly audacious character.
I was driving pretty slow down the dirt road admiring what is for me, the long way home today.
And, I guess if a wild Nevadan girl drives slow enough past someplace she is curious about, then she is bound to stop for it eventually.
I found myself parked at the gate of the Starr Valley Cemetery.
Old cemeteries are like old towns, they have plenty of personality. This old church was catching the afternoon light just right and I knew I was going to get picture lucky.
A breeze kicked up and a familiar scent caught me by surprise. I took a look around and saw nothing evident, only lilac bushes or wild flowers, but the memory was there beating like a heartbeat in my head. Emotions evoked by the scent of a wild yellow rose bush. You know somebody once loved the spot where the wild roses now grow wild.
So I knew there was more to this place, this cemetery, than meets the eye. While I looked for the source of the second best smell on Earth, I let my mind, my feet, and my kids wander.
I grew up in the campiest of all mining camps. As it goes with old mining camps, what was no longer useful was left where it was, to the elements. And so my home town had its share of empty ramshackle shantys surrounded by protective thorny bushes, and pockets of old vehicles or miners goodies.
For two weeks ours and other rough and tumble places around the old mine camp turned into actual, once loved, little miners cabins' just because of these fragrant blooms.
While in bloom, and for those two magical weeks, it was easy to imagine the mines open; those empty miner's cabins as homes; and the yellow roses were planted as a mining camp womans' best effort to take the edge off the rough, with exactly three drops of water to spare.
When I see the yellow roses bloom I know someone, probably a woman, once loved the spot where they now grow wild.
And, Those women must have held some appreciation for the wild and unruly side of life or they might have never come to what was the last frontier. Perhaps, that is why they appreciated the hearty, audacious "wild" yellow rose and planted it here. Maybe they recognized the likeness to the land, and the people?
I asked often and never got a strait answer on how the roses came to be there; or in the other mining camps from Virgina City to Goldfield; or in the backyards of ranches; churches; and graveyards.
Perhaps the Mother who was memorialized here, was one of those wild unruly women who needed a patch, and planted roses that still grow at one of these nearby ranches. Perhaps she intended to take the edge off the rough for two weeks in the summer.
She could never know her effort would evoke such emotion from me as I wander around looking for the source of my favorite smell, 100 years later? How could she have known?
As the years pass I find more value in what was left over by the generation before us. I also find more appreciation for the things that are left to the care of Mother Nature in man (or woman's) absence.
And I have found a great admiration for the people who brought and built and planted these sturdy, hearty, audacious things here.
I think these early Nevadan people were not just working for themselves against all the odds, and up against the worst of elements.
When and where the roses grow, it seems the early Nevadans found a genuine way to appreciate where they were, and what they were doing here. And, they cared enough to plant a pretty rose.
When my feet wanders around old cemeteries and my mind is off at that old mining camp of my youth, there can only be the scent of these wild yellow roses to blame. Finally, in the very back of the cemetery at the very top of the hill, behind a small stand of trees is the source of the sweet scent that drove me to emotions.
One look and I knew somebody once loved
the spot where these roses now grow wild.
Thanks for walking with me through the Starr Valley Cemetery.