Love knows no greater challenge
After the summer break of 1977, Rose attempted to get school funding to assist Harvey develop his inventions and fund a possible year 11 European study tour of the great Philosopher’s cities. Other than moral support from Miss Spencer and Rodney, she found no financial support from school, council or her family. In fact, quite the opposite, her parents believed her obsession with ‘the weird boy next door’ was affecting her schoolwork. They decided to move her away to a boarding house in Sydney, fearing that Rose was getting too close to Harvey. Rose was inconsolable; she ran out of her house and towards the old gum tree in Harvey’s back yard and hugged its trunk as hard as she could. She was angry and confused; “why now?” she thought, after finally regaining lost confidence in her ability to socialise with boys. Harvey’s caring attitude had restored some of her lack of trust back in men. Still hugging the old gum tree, Rose spoke out,
“Help me!” she cried in a penetrating voice that echoed throughout the neighbourhood. Her fingernails began penetrating the dry bark.
“How can they move me away from my new friend and send me to a girl’s school in Sydney? of all places!” Rose thumped the ground with her fist. Meanwhile Harvey who had heard all the commotion climbed into his mother’s apple tree hedge to listen.
“How will I ever cope?” After a few sobbing seconds, a voice echoed from within the Apple tree hedge,
“You can cope if you have to! Or you won’t if you don’t want to.”
A startled Rose opened her eyes to see Harvey’s head protruding from the same apple tree hedge that Rose had previously startled Harvey. Harvey stuffed an unripened apple in his mouth, desperately trying to muffle his giggling. Rose soon joined in, and together they laughed so hard that she began gasping for breath. Moments later, they embraced. However, again, Rose began crying uncontrollably. Surprised by her outburst of emotion, Harvey gradually calmed her down. Still sniffling, Rose pressed her cheek against his and then gently kissed him on the lips; an even more surprised Harvey with apple in his mouth, struggled to speak; becoming overwhelmed with excitement and confusion.
“Harvey, what should I do?”
“Err, just follow your heart? . . A Rose transplanted into another flowerbed will still one day bloom fresh and sweet. If petals fall, softer petals lay dormant beneath your hardened bud, ready to bare perfume. Once your heart is exposed, thorns will die; and you, like a budding flower, with fertilising, will be ready to blossom into a new woman.”
. . . Rose’s eyes glazed over,
“You never cease to amaze me my dear friend, how do you understand me so well? I never told you what happened, and yet you seem to know my path better than I do. My parents don’t want us to see each other again. They are sending me away to Sydney, to attend a toffy girls’ school! . . . I am so angry and afraid.”
Harvey held her shaking hand and with a reassuring tone said,
“Do not be scared, or fear will drive away the soul of your creativity. . . .
…We have often stopped to smell sweet roses and I have always enjoyed our time together, I feel like we are more than soul mates, and I thank you for being my dearest friend. One day, I am sure that we shall reunite. But for now, you must follow your own journey and I must follow mine.” Rose stepped away from Harvey trying to memorise his image, his eyes and loving smile.
“I’m sorry Harvey; I can’t get that image of your head with an apple in your mouth, out of my mind!”
“I too will never look at apple pie again without seeing your happy face, and head in our Apple tree and then laughing uncontrollably”
“Stop it Harvey, you make me laugh too much. Could you please write a farewell poem for me, as I fear I may never see you again?”
Harvey took hold of her hand, looked deep into her eyes and asked,
Have we stopped to smell all the roses?
I resist talking about your feelings and fears,
perhaps now is the time to bottle residual tears.
Is it me really talking, or just playing a game?
Sometimes I feel angry, sometimes I feel pain.
I want us to be happy, is that too much to ask?
Is living for our love, simply living in the past?
Let us stop and listen, to advice we may receive,
Remove life’s pressure, so we can both succeed!
This does not mean, you can no longer be my friend,
it’s simply a cruel twist, in life’s path without an end.
Who are you? What are you? Where is your plan?
Too many questions, in this weird wonderland!
Perhaps I am scared, of delving too deep,
finding your truth, may take from my sleep.
My poem portrays more, than one single thought,
but a pen cannot tell, if what you read will distort.
Perhaps I am scared of saying erroneous things,
to incriminate, sadden or halt grand beginnings.
Have we finally stopped, smelling the beautiful roses?
or dancing the same tune, sharing wonderful poses?
Are we caught on the thorns that keep us apart?
Or lost control of our way, like a tearaway cart?
One thing is for sure, it is what you have become,
the most beautiful Rose, in today’s red setting sun.
Harvey tore out the poem from his journal, and handed it to Rose. Weeping, she responded with a loving smile and a passionate kiss. They embraced, with their lips touching gently together; Tears began rolling from her eyes with one trickling down onto their cheeks. Harvey offered Rose his handkerchief, as she took a deep breath and looked straight into his eyes,
“Thank you, my dear whacky neighbour; I will miss you so much.”
Her tear, had trickled onto his lip, and typically distracted Harvey. Discreetly, he outstretched his tongue, managing to touch and taste the hanging teardrop as it sat on his lip.
“A bit salty,” Harvey thought to himself.
That same moment he realised who he was about to lose. Harvey’s heart felt fractured, and torn apart. Letting Rose go to Sydney would be his saddest day ever; but he also realised that he could not stand in her parent’s way. His apprehension grew as he started to think about whether or not he would ever see Rose again.
“Rose, will you remember me always? Will we ever meet again?”
“Of course I will, and I really hope so Harvey. I will miss you very much; maybe you could visit me during the holidays.”
Harvey knew it would be difficult. His parents would probably not allow him to travel to Sydney, besides, the strict Catholic boarding houses do not allow young male visitors. He felt unsupportive and unable to offer Rose any incentive to stay and be happy with him.
“I feel like we have only just met and now, suddenly, our love is languishing, even though it has been seven years as neighbours. Most of it feels like a relationship drought. Perhaps if I had been more neighbourly, we could have flourished longer in the same lush garden bed.”
“My sentiments exactly Harvey; I hear what you are saying and for once I understand what you were thinking!”
Passion filled his thoughts, as he compared Rose with a flower,
“You are like a thirsty seed after drought breaking rain, having your heart hydrated with life giving moisture. From the instant, your skin touched precious water, new growth erupted, upwards towards the rays of opportunity, activating your flowering process with blossoms of new life, and breaking our seven year drought.”
Holding her hand firmly, as Rose did, he studied her face to capture her every feature, trying to etch her perfect characteristics into his mind.
“My dearest Rose, like our worst ever drought, we have lived next to each other for seven years, not knowing of the love we could have shared. But now it is time for you to break this seven year drought and brighten the dark sky over Sydney.”
Harvey took out his journal and began writing as Rose sat quietly watching him, her head on his shoulder and her arm affectionately wrapped around his back; they were teenagers in love.
The Seven-Year Drought
Our love at last seems fresh and lean,
like paddocks, in an autumn dream.
New shoots and saplings, lush and strong,
until sometimes, simply, things go wrong.
All those years that tore apart,
the very existence of our heart.
Dreams it seems, just like the plains,
Are swept so clear, with little remains.
For seven years – the earth so bare,
no blades of grass, not anywhere.
The emptiness we felt within,
nature left this heart so thin.
God stepped in and said, enough, enough,
let moisture flow, from heavens trough.
Seven years of seeds that lay asleep,
Started to grow, then began to peep.
Once more re-joined, both the seed and rain,
all grew strong, and that’s how they remain.
Rose looked deep into Harvey’s eyes,
“Harvey Stewart, what were you thinking? Or should I say, what have you been drinking or smoking?”
“Only the elixir of love and morning nectar, thank you Miss Rose!” They exchanged a chuckle.
“Well then, I guess I must be the seed you speak of and you must be the soaking rain from Heaven’s trough. This probably means that for most of this wonderful year, you have been nourishing my heart without me knowing. Does that about sum it up Harvey?”
“I guess so Rose, I just wish they wouldn’t transplant you before your potential has had time to blossom in my garden.”
“Harvey, I think I love you now more than ever before and I can’t work out why this moment is so special, yet so sad.” Harvey held her hand,
“Perhaps there is no stronger portion of love, than the parting moment that we both share. Love’s potion is a parting motion!”
“Harvey, thankyou for giving me renewed confidence in humanity. Please, please keep writing to me after I leave, my mother should get you the address or forward your mail.” Harvey’s face lit up,
“How could I say no? You, and of course, Miss Spencer have both given me the gift of courage to capture my imagination on paper. . .
My thoughts are merely observations trapped in a pond of unconsciousness. To share thoughts with you, through my pen and journal is a gift we can always treasure. My Love for you is an abundance of appreciation like a harvest of happiness.”
Rose kissed Harvey once more the cheek; they both embraced and as Rose turned to walk away, Harvey’s eyes glazed over filling with tears. A strange uncomfortable feeling came over him; he hoped with all of his heart, to see Rose again one day.
Several days after she had left for Sydney, Harvey began writing Rose letters, not just any letters, but a regular chronicle of events summarising every week. Sometimes he wrote a poem and other times just bizarre thoughts or observations. During this time, Harvey received only two letters from Rose, via her mother; both with no return address and a short handwritten birthday card for his August 17th birthday. Regardless of the lack of return mail, Harvey continued writing to Rose, motivated by the longing need to communicate with his best friend.
One cloudy afternoon, whilst running home from the shop to avoid the intermittent showers, he noticed a brilliant rainbow lit up from a momentary burst of evening sunrays. Inspired by the unusual colours of the rainbow, his mind began analysing and questioning until soon an abstract vision appeared. He went straight to his journal and began writing a poem for Rose….
A Rose Gold Rainbow
A Sun shower led to one question,
does a rainbow ever end?
My distant Rose came into mind,
my neighbour and good friend.
So many beautiful linear colours,
personifies this rainbow’s shine,
My radiant Rose glows so bright,
to form one new golden line.
I fondly remember that gentle mist,
upon our shoulders, head and hands;
I no longer walk with my dear friend,
until we meet again, in other Lands.
Although I miss my lovely Rose,
a great story surely must be told;
God’s rainbow shines much brighter now,
with a new, colour of Rose Gold.
But finding where this rainbow ends,
Will always be a part of history;
as I reach out to touch her golden ray,
to solve an age-old mystery.
Next time watch those sun’s rays,
touch her tears of happiness;
A golden rainbow, with a Rose gold ray,
is a gift for all to bless.
Or when you seek that pot of gold,
beneath her golden line;
Just remember, in every rainbow,
you will see her love divine.
For many months, Harvey sent Rose a letter, highlighting the previous week’s obscure events in Illawonga and each time he placed the letter in her old letterbox, for her mother to forward. Sometimes he sent a poem, featuring Illawonga’s characters, or an unusual observation of an insect or native violet from deep within the Cancanara scrubland. This week Harvey was in excruciating pain. In desperation, he hoped another poem to Rose might lift his spirits; with his head unbearably aching, he still managed to write.
What do I have to lose?
Prisoners of war their torturous times;
how could they endure so much pain?
Accident victims & survivors what’s more;
just how much of their hurt will remain?
How can I compare what I endure,
to those thousands that suffered before?
What is my threshold; how much can I bear;
as these tears and throbbing build more!
My face is now swollen; the smile well removed;
Insanity hijacks all thoughts of deep sleep.
I must display courage, to the world I will prove,
although my outlook, seems dismally bleak!
Today is the day, I must turn away;
from personal pride, and stubborn intent.
Sound reasoning is masked, by incredible pain;
to my faith, I leave the final judgement.
Can surgery cure what drugs could not endure?
Sadly, I see few options left to choose!
The Doctor suggests radical deep surgery;
my response; well, what have I got to lose?
Desperately I wait, in this comfortable chair,
I must now face up to the terrible truth;
that the greatest of pain, and my one deepest fear;
was simply an infected tooth!
Several more months went by, but no more letters ever arrived from Rose. Harvey checked his mailbox every day, but each time, still no mail from Rose. Each day’s disappointment would slowly fade as Harvey would again write another verse or add an entry in his chronicle for Rose. None of Harvey’s letters returned, so he assumed that Rose had received his. After all, Rose’s mother always promised to redirect them at the post office for him.
“Rose must be very busy with her fabulous new city life, to not even send a post card or write back to her old country buddy! Perhaps my Rose is enjoying her taste of life a little too much!”
“That’s fine; she’s having a fine time!” Harvey muttered to himself. What ever! . . . He gave a short, frustrated sigh, before continuing with studying his book on the great philosophers.
After reading for one hour, his eyes lit up from a great light bulb moment; he reached for his pen and journal,
I have just made a philosophical and historical discovery! In my studies of ancient Greek philosophers, there lived Heraclitus from Ephesus around C500. Many of his critics believed his delirious declarations were designed to place his audience or readers into a trance, he also believed in ‘Logos’ translated as the comprehensible rationally organised universe. Alas, much of his summation disappeared along with his Mantra for this field of Philosophy. I believe I have discovered what it was! Yes Rose, it is,
‘The Philosophy of Whatever’. . . You see, of all of his quotes, my favourite is –
“If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.”
So look out for ‘What ever’ in your travels! I wrote this poem to remind me of your new lifestyle in the city.
All my Love, Harvey XX
What ever, What ever; What ever!
“My life likes - just a little continued refinement.
That’s fine; Life’s fine. . . It’s a fine time to be refined!
Life’s refinements are like the condiments of life.
Life’s condiments are the refinements of life’s likes.
Refine life’s likes and the condiments will be in your life.
What ever, What ever; What ever!
Continued: Find chapter 10