The most beautiful time of the year. The wild rose harvest. Some of my most potent memories, both as a child and in recent years revolve around the blooming of this flower. So i will dig right in…
I was born in the heat of the summer, July 14th, in the heart of the wild rose bloom. I don’t doubt that my Mum was sipping on rose petal tea leading up to my arrival in the comfort (and sometimes discomfort) of our off-grid house in the woods, above the Sheep River Valley. As a result of the timing of all those things, i was/am convinced that half my blood is actually the nectar of wild rose, and though i am delicate, i also have very sharp thorns for protection.
On my 1st, 5th, and 18th (and im sure a few in between) birthdays, my Mum would make me a cheesecake and cover it in rose petals. I remember thinking it was the most magic thing i have ever seen. and tasted. And how loved and magic it made me feel. Still.
One of the first “chores” given to my sister and I at the age of 6 or so was delegated by my father. We were to take a pillow case (this may be an exaggeration, but im sure it was a pillow case) and walk the ditches, river valley, and fields in search of rose petals. At the time, he was distilling for the Wild Rose College of Natural Healing in Calgary, and needed pounds of petals to fill his orders for Terry, the head Elf of the college. My sister and i would spend hours and hours hunting for roses, filling our pillow cases (using the 30% rule, im sure our mum taught us). Nothing about this task felt like a chore. We would take the dogs for protection, and head out on what we imagined was a grand adventure!
I still feel that same thrill when i head out to collect them now. Harvesting the same patches i did then. visiting the same magic places on the banks of the river, climbing the same hills (a lot smaller then i remember them), and connecting to the land in that same innocent, child like manner. Which is a gift on so many levels. To grow alongside certain plants, we would be silly to think they don’t become our allies. Our protectors, healers, teachers. So, 2 years ago, i wasn’t surprised to discover that of course the Wild Rose was one of mine. I was taking a year long course called “Practical Skills for a Resilient Future” taught by friend/mentor/fairy godmother. We would meet for a weekend four times a year, in the spring, summer, fall and winter. In the spring we met for the last time as a group. We spent the weekend making medicine, planting seeds, walking, talking, and working in nature. That weekend we were asked the question “who are you allies?” in the plant, animal, and human worlds. We were asked this, because in order to build resilience, you must create a connection with your surroundings on all levels. My mind flashed to those days as a kid, hanging out with the roses. It was clear.
A couple weeks later, as the wild roses started to bloom, i found myself in the middle of a pretty sad separation with my long time partner and even longer time friend. it wasn’t un-expected, but that didn’t make it less hard. It didn’t take me long before i found myself in the rose patch, picking, eating, napping, dancing, shedding, and ultimately healing. The spent a lot of my days there, and the ones i didn’t i was making medicine from the rose. eating it, drinking it, rubbing it into my skin. By the end of the bloom, i had moved through most of my grief, and was able to remember that though i am delicate, i am also so fucking strong. You can be both at once.
Present day. The roses are in bloom. My 27th birthday is approaching. I am more in love then i have ever been. Harvesting roses has been a daily ritual. I imagine my Mum and i share the same movements as we pick rose petals. it was confirmed the other day when we went out together, slowly dancing through the patch, not spending to much time at one bush, eating a petal here and there, letting out a small screech whenever we find a crab spider crawling up our arms. She is a rose too, im sure. I have moved into wild crafting and medicine making full time now, selling at the local Makers and Growers Market on Sunday’s. Offering all sorts of wild treasures, but enjoying the hunt more then anything. The connection to the land all around me.
What are your plant allies? Of course you can have more then one. How does it heal you, what does it teach you, what land does it connect you to? You can ask this question in relation to the people in your life too. its important. To feel safe, supported, loved, and ultimately connected. There are many ways to find this, for me, its hanging out with the roses.