Savage Land

"I'm so glad we have those big oaks to shade my roses from the afternoon sun. They'd just shrivel up and dry away without them in this heat." Aunt Willy took the roses from Coley's arms and put them in her basket before walking on to another group of bushes. "It's so difficult to grow roses in the southwest because of the intensity of the sun—did you know that, Colleen?"

Without waiting for her to answer, Aunt Willy went on, enthralled by her very favorite subject.

"But if you really want to see roses, my dear, I mean thousands and thousands of roses, you must go to Tyler, Texas. More than half of this nation's field-grown roses are produced there. Most people think of oil and oil wells when you mention Tyler, but they've been growing roses commercially in Tyler since the 1870s. It's a standing joke that if there's oil underneath a rosebush, the rose stays. I'm sure that's a bit of an exaggeration, but we Texans are prone to exaggerate."

Aunt Willy laughed her tinkly laugh, but Coley knew that Aunt Willy secretly applauded the thought.

"They have over five hundred different varieties. And all colors, from the whitest white to reds so dark that you wouldn't be able to spot them if they were floating in a pool of oil. George took me there several times in October when they have their festival. You really must go there some time and walk through Tyler Park in downtown," Aunt Willy urged with a wave of her shearers. "It's an experience you'll never forget."

Coley nodded absently, not able to mount much enthusiasm for the thought. She was too wrapped up in her dilemma over Jase to get excited about roses.

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