The Rose

When dear friends of ours lived on a farm property on the outskirts of a small community called Erickson, near Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park, starting in the later 2000s, we often (though not often enough) drove out to visit and stay with them for weekends. We even had our own room on the second floor! (By the way, they’re the same couple I mentioned in my post on Cyndi Lauper’s “I’m Gonna Be Strong.” As I said there, one is no longer with us… though as a bit of serendipity, his son reached out to me and we connected on Facebook today.)

During that time, Sarah Slean released an alum called The Baroness. The iTunes version I bought in August 2008 included two tracks not included on the regular release. “The Rose” was one of them. It was later included on an album called, The Baroness Redecorates, a title which seems to tell a story of its own.

Sweety and I often listened to the whole album as part of the aural accompaniment for the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Erickson. We would both be knackered from our hectic careers and were looking forward to the fun and frivolity that awaited when our friends greeted us at the farmhouse door. They truly pampered us on our visits, a fact I surely did not fully appreciate at the time due to the over-reaching and distractions my ever-present job had on our whole family, at times then. (That’s what I want to shout to people when they so quickly and unabashedly bash the stereotype of public servants, and attack people in those jobs; I know, I experienced it personally, many times, and it hurt me. It hurt my wife. It hurt my kids. Most public servants I’ve known have given up tremendous amounts of their own time to do the work necessary to aid the public good, and it is often unappreciated, if not pilloried. Maybe the high-profile work of public servants during the coronavirus will change that. I’d like to see it: These people work very hard, pour their hearts and souls into it, face danger, and suffer in many unseen ways due to the lack of respectful treatment they sometimes experience from inept leaders, politicians, the public, and occasionally, opportunistic and biased portions of what’s lumped in as “the media.” I won’t even say I digress, here; I’ll just “apologize-not-apologize” for the rant.)

But, we are not here for all that drama. So, back to the lovely drive up to Erickson: I have a powerful memory of Sweety’s reaction at the end of this song, one time when it finished playing as we were driving up Manitoba Provincial Trunk Highway (PTH) #5, passing the turnoff for Plumas, en route to Manitoba Provincial Road #357, otherwise known as the Mountain Road, which scales up and roves along the undulating Riding Mountain escarpment — the shore of ancient glacial Lake Agassiz. It is a beautiful drive as an alternative to the straighter PTH #10, to blow out the cobwebs of stressful workweeks while observing incredible beauty lit by the late-day sun (and, that’s just speaking about what I’d see glancing over to the passenger seat!).

After the song finished on that one occasion I have in mind, Sweety, with a tearful face said, “That’s SUCH a beautiful song…” She said it in a way I will never be able to articulate for you; you’d have to witness the deep, spiritual emotion in her voice at that moment. I am blessed that I could, and did.

I’ll always remember it.

In addition to being a beautiful song, “The Rose” is a heart-rending piece of poetry, that touches on our mortality; a fact of life that has visited my Sweety and me too many times since that drive, including taking away half of that lovely couple we used to drive to visit.

“Will the birds be singing
When my life is done
And all the seasons of me have come and gone
Plant me in the garden where the willow grows
And from my sorrow, a rose
How high the moon
How deep the ocean
I never knew
‘Til now

When the curtain closes there’ll be no surprise
When the anthem’s playing we know to rise
Every living creature was born to close their eyes
But love the great magician, never dies
How high the moon
How deep the ocean
I never knew 
’Til now

For the years of sadness I will not mourn
For in the deepest darkness courage is born
How high the moon
How deep the ocean
How high the moon
I never knew
’Til now”

(“The Rose,” by Sarah Slean)

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. 

I savour the recollection of these stories, and this blog is a wonderful outlet for sharing them. I’d love to hear from you if these resonate for you — if you’d like to share your thoughts about the stories. There’s a comment feature if you scroll down; you have to add your email address, but that will never be published or used in any way without your permission; I promise.

Thanks for joining me here and reading this. Please enjoy the song, and I hope to hear from you.

There is more than one way to enjoy this piece and, as I searched for them, I found a bit of mystery as I could not find the version as released on the album, ‘The Baroness’ which is in my purchased collection. However, the later reissue of ‘The Baroness Redecorates’ is provided as a playlist on her site, including this track:

And, here is a live performance video of the song from Sarah Slean’s YouTube channel:

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