Monday, July 06, 2009

Coming up roses on the 4th of July

By late June the screen of trees, brush and vines that separates trail from water around the lake at Red Haw has turned into a variegated lattice of green.

But just in time for the 4th of July an explosion of pale pink erupts like fireworks around a bend along the north shore of the southwest inlet. This is Iowa's state flower, the wild rose, so named in 1897 by the state Legislature.

The lawmakers, who squabbled a little as might be expected before making the designation on the second try, failed to specify which variety and I'm not sure which this is. There are several, some more common than others depending upon which part of the state you're in.

But it was a good choice I think and matched the elaborate motif applied to a set of of ornate silver presented by the Legislature to the first USS Iowa, launched on 28 March 1896 and commissioned on 16 June 1897. There's something to be said for consistency.

The wild rose even has it's official poem, composed by that literary star of the Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Brevit Maj. Samuel Hawkins Marshall Byers, also composer of Iowa's official state song (and that's not the tall corn song) but most widely known for his ode, "Sherman's March to the Sea," written while cooling his heels in a Confederate prison after capture at the Battle of Chattanooga.

Hast seen the wild rose of the West,
The sweetest child of morn ?
Its feet the dewy fields have pressed,
Its breath is on the corn.

The gladsome prairie rolls and sweeps
Like billows to the sea,
While on its breast the red rose keeps
The white rose company.

The wild, wild rose whose fragrance dear
To every breeze is flung,
The same wild rose that blossomed here
When Iowa was young.

O, sons of heroes ever wear
The wild rose on your shield,
No other flower is half so fair
In loves immortal field.

Let others sing of mountain snows,
Or palms beside the sea,
The state whose emblem is the rose
Is fairest far to me.

Golly, they just don't write them like that any more --- but I like it anyway. The official Iowa song isn't bad either.

Chariton's grand and glorious 4th --- one of its bigger celebrations of the year --- went off without a hitch so far as I know despite overnight rain preceding it. Sunday dawned bright, clear and beautiful for an ecumenical service that drew several hundred to square. Then a good old fasioned Chinese buffet for several of us at the Panda. What could be more appropriate on Independence Day weekend in the U.S. of A. than Chinese?

And one other thing --- something I never thought I'd live long enough to see --- a nice bunch of kids from a Baptist church deep in Missouri performing dramatic dance prior to altar call as Sunday's service closed. Baptists? Dance? Lordy, lordy.


Ed Abbey said...

Heard there was a threat of flooding over your way over this past weekend. You must have received some showers that we didn't.

Frank D. Myers said...

No problems in and around Chariton, but I heard (via TV) two feet of water over some roads in the Bloomfield area, so maybe the heaviest was farther south.

Wanda Horn said...

Hey, Frank -- I'm back home in Tennessee this morning. Sorry I didn't have a chance to call you for coffee, but a week in Iowa is never long enough!

The 4th was great, especially since I got to see it through the eyes of my cousin's grandchildren. One of them is a 6-year-old Arizona-born boy who was quite in awe of everything he observed "in Iowa"! We were a little concerned about the late start for the fireworks, since we had my cousin's twin granddaughters with us (age 2-1/2) and we weren't sure how much longer they would be willing to wait for the "big lights in the sky" we had promised them. But they were good as gold and considered the fireworks worth the wait.

I got to spend some wonderful hours with aunts who are 81 and 90, the only two left of their family of 15 siblings. Precious moments.

So--it was a great trip except for missing coffee with Frank. Maybe next year?

One of the little twins sings a song that goes basically, "Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa ...... the HAWK-EYE STATE." It's great to see another generation growing up proud to be Iowans!

Frank D. Myers said...

Hi Wanda,

Glad to hear you had a good week and made it home safe and sound. I'll keep the coffee pot on next year!

I've had my nose to the grindstone this week, getting ready for a writing seminar I promised a long time ago to participate in tomorrow. Three hours there, two hours in the hotseat, three hours back. What a way to spend a Friday!