Home smells like a Sutter’s Gold rose in Mom’s backyard. Even though Mom didn’t water it; the gold glory crimson, orange, yellow grew over eight-feet tall outside of her kitchen window, loaded with full body brilliant perfumed blossoms in Tiburon during spring and summer.
Mom said the rose thrived on neglect, but maybe it was the Miwok Native American earth where Mom’s house was built that nurtured it. We found evidence of beads, mortars and pestles in the yard. Our subdivision house was built post WWII, on Richardson Bay, nestled in a cove at the base of a rock sprinkled mountain with a 360-degree view of seven Bay Area counties. People planted roses in their yards, but our Sierra Gold was perfectly number one.
Located on a registered Miwok historic site, ranchers and dairymen operated the same land for over fifty years. Cows wandered over Miwok remains, and after the subdivision was built, no one knew bones were there.
Before I went to first grade, I went out the backdoor, looking for buds on a dark green stem, living candle flame, deep orange to yellowish white. I cut blooms and brought them into the livingroom, placing them in a purple handblown vase my mother bought from Japan. For my whole life, I depended on Sierra Gold beauty for loving confirmation of how fantastic roses can be.
After Mom died in early spring, I wished to bring her memory into the house, the rose as botanical reconfirmation that life is good. The living candle colors mystically combine with childhood and conversations with my mother. I still celebrate the rose’s survival, wishing to keep the strength of its essence inside me.
Plants grow because its their job. Blooms mattered even as a child, deep connecting comfort of beauty for its own sake.
Neglect was also part of the story. No one cared for the rose, but it bloomed anyway, because its nature was to give everything. The Sierra Gold survived because it was strong and beautiful, staying rooted where it was, through droughts and too much rain, exploding each spring into constellations of brilliant golden reds.
The Sierra Gold rose remains the most elegant and enduring grace.