“It was in Oregon, up in Portland, which they call the Rose City…”

Peninsula Park, Portland.

He had been restless one day, troubled by business boondoggles. He drove up into a park on a hillside and got out for a walk. “You could see for miles from up there. And there was a big rose garden with arbors and trellises and fountains. The paths were brick and wound in and out.” He sat on a step leading from one terrace to another and stared listlessly at the experimental roses. “It was a test garden, and the colors were… designed. Striped and layered. One color inside the petal and another color outside…”

The roses started him thinking, how the oddity of them was beautiful and how that oddity was contrived to give them value. “It just struck me – clear and complete all at once – no long figuring about it.” He realized that children could be designed. “And I thought to myself, now that would a rose garden worthy of a man’s interest.”

We children would smile and hug him and he would grin around at us and send the twins for a pot of cocoa from the drink wagon and me for a bag of popcorn because the red-haired girls would just throw it out when they finished closing the concession anyway. And we would all be cozy in the warm booth of the van, eating popcorn and drinking cocoa and feeling like Papa’s roses.

Geek Love, Katherine Dunn.

A Portland Rose in the Rain.

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