Along the Trail of Tears

Dancing in the Light: Along the Trail of Tears

Along the Trail of Tears: An Aching Beauty

For years, the simple white roses and their deep green leaves grew along the picket fence in front of a duplex on Live Oak Avenue. I do not know how many times I passed by them with my sightless vision on my way to the coffee shop - probably hundreds of times. Then, about 7 years ago, my eyes opened, and suddenly they became an integral part of my daily world.


The blooming cycle of the simple roses lasted only a few days. They began as nondescript green buds, and soon a folded cluster of golden orange petals emerged among the sheltering leaves. The fully-opened flower displayed brilliant yellow seed pods sprouting from the flowing core of white-pink petals that reflected the blue of the Valley sky. Then, seemingly in a moment, the flowers turned into red-blotched, shriveled sheets that fell to the ground, leaving only the deep green leaves along the fence.

Even before I learned the legend behind their names, the subtle, soft flowers with their fleeting lives had an aching, sorrow-filled beauty. Even as I wondered at the translucent, delicate beauty of the blossoms and their shining seed cores, I knew the brevity of their time in the Light.

The common name for these flowers is "Cherokee Trail of Tears" roses. The legend behind the name goes back to the forced relocation of Native American tribes in the early 19th center from their homes in the US Southeast to the open spaces of Oklahoma. According to the legend, Cherokee women wept from the suffering of the displacement. These delicate, sorrow-filled roses grew as signs of hope and life from the spots where their tears fell to the ground.

So much beauty ... so much sorrow.

During the past few months, the duplex disappeared under the sheer force of the developer's bulldozer. The picket fence and the covering rose bushes became a part of the landfill that holds the remains of the older house. Today, a single surviving branch of bushes lies in the space between the construction fence and the barren sidewalk. Soon, even that tiny remnant will be gone, and only my photos will recall the beauty and the sorrow of the simple blossoms.