Rose-Colored Fences

This is peak season for rose-viewing on the Vineyard, with pink wild roses in fields and on roadsides, rambler roses on Edgartown’s white picket fences, clusters of fragrant rosa multiflora tumbling everywhere in West Tisbury where, once, they were planted to be the borders of pastures.

The rose, of course, has been the queen of the flowers and the symbol of love for centuries. It is said that Cleopatra seduced Marc Antony by arriving for a meeting with him on a barge laden with sweet-smelling roses two feet deep. Because she loved roses so and asked her father to bring her one from his travels, Beauty — of Beauty and the Beast — became the captive of the Beast after her father had stolen a rose for her from the garden of the Beast.

It was the blood of the nightingale, so enraptured by the beauty of a white rose that he let a thorn pierce his breast as he sang to the rose that created the red rose.

In her book, The Rose: Myth, Folklore and Legend, the English writer Ann Mayhew recounts more such stories of the rose. The stories, of course, are charming. But it is the rose itself that is perfuming our air and bedazzling our eyes just now that is, of course, the most charming.