Cop a rose in honor of Fran and Aunt Rose.

May 30th, 2014, 4pm

In Duluth, they carved a trench in the solid rock next to Lake Superior. Through the trench they routed a highway. Finally, they roofed the trench with the Duluth Rose Garden: a fancy, proper, public place. The Rose Garden is, for me, of Lake Superior, a shore of beauty and place of remembrances!

I visited the Rose Garden a few days back and found the azaleas in bloom, the roses tipped up from their earthy winter graves for a month now and budding out with leaves.

When I visit the Rose Garden I habitually tell folks I’ve gone to cop a rose for Fran and Rose: my now dead mother and her out-of-town sister.

The family lore recounts how Fran and Rose visited the Rose Garden one afternoon and walked about; each picking herself a big bouquet - quite illegal and untoward. But who will scold two ladies in their eighties at picking some flowers; certainly not the young niece-chauffeur just a few weeks graduated from high school. You hide your shamed face in your hands and hope they will soon return to the car!

Fran grew up in the depression. Thus we explained her behaviour to embarassed grandchildren who might go to dinner with her. After the waitress had left with check and tip, Fran swept all the containers of sugar, creamer, hi-lo, mustard and ketchup into her open purse. Sometimes she even took the sugar bowls and salt cellars!

But copping the roses had nothing to do with the Depression, I think. The two ladies had been drinking tea, Long Island Iced Tea, a potent drink mixed of vodka, rum, tequila, gin and triple sec with sour mix and topped off with cola. Neither drank much habitually but that day, out to lunch, when they remembered a dear, long dead, childhood friend who once owned the restaurant at which they ate, they ordered additional rounds, in honor!! Thus fortified, perhaps they decided they also needed some flowers for the grave.

So now I tag my visits to the City Rose Garden as copping a rose for Fran and Rose. However I neither drink Long Island Tea nor finch roses. Walking amidst the flowers I think of Mom, Aunt Rose and I smile!

Linda, Shu, Sanna and David Wade said thanks.

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Ken Jackson

An avid outdoors man. Retired and retiring, living on the shore of Lake Superior

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