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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Beach roses

A couple of years ago the rose bush at the back of the ocean garden was looking pretty spindly, so I put on thick gloves and attacked it, cutting it down to half-size and clearing out the dead stalks. The violence helped; it's looking good this year, although never so full and lush as the wild bushes growing along the lanes and the edges of beaches. We don't know if our bush grew there naturally, or if the previous owners planted it. It's a little precarious, right on the edge of the bank, between two firs, battling with the lupine and the lilies in the garden. It needs the occasional human touch.

The shoreline doesn't particularly need the human touch. I'm guessing the tidal zone has stayed essentially the same for thousands of years - the same rocks, rockweed, chaos of waves, with only a stray piece of plastic or invasive species of crab to mar the illusion. I can look out at the bay, of course, and see boats and lobsters pots; there are machines in the sky; houses and stairs and sling chairs bedeck the land above the water. But I also can sit at the ocean's edge and look at the complex of currents swirling around the rocks, always the same, always changing, and wonder what the attraction is to the fancy varieties of rose that are so difficult to grow, when the rosa rugosa gladdens the heart without even trying.

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