Julie, the kids and I were sitting in the study the other day when we happened to look out the window at an elderly Italian gentleman leaning on our front fence. There’s nothing unusual about this: we frequently have elderly Italian gentlemen leaning on our front fence, because it’s not too far from the shops, but far enough away to take a break if you’re elderly, and presumably they’ve leaned on several other fences on the way, and I’m glad our fence can provide this hospitable service. As we watched him, he casually leaned over the fence and broke off a flower from one of the several rose bushes in our front yard. Again, nothing particularly unusual; people do that from time to time, and since we have plenty of them, it doesn’t bother me.
But what happened next was definitely unusual. Rather than smelling the flower, or stashing it in his pocket, or engaging in any other manner of flower appreciation, he put the stem between his thumb and forefinger and rubbing it up and down proceeded to denude the entire stem of foliage. Every leaf and thorn was removed, including the flower. Then, with the stem all that remained, he bit into it and began to chew. Casually, like it was a licorice stick or some other snack he enjoyed from time to time. When he’d finished that mouthful, he had another.
Now I don’t know if rose stems have some kind of curative properties; I’m no botanist or plant expert of any kind, but I confess I was somewhat dumbfounded and mystified. Anyone have an explanation for this? Has anyone tried rose stems as a snack?