Monday, April 20, 2015

Nurturing the Heart

Feeding Mason Bees
Making Wishes
Makes Me Grumpy, Sometimes
Small Acts
Not a Road for the Car
Dandelions in the Valley, Snow in the Mountains
Eyes on the Pack River
Rushing Snow Melt
Cavorting Dogs
Watching the River...Moose...What Moose?
Danger Lurks in Mossy Trees
The Man Cares for His Dogs & Wife
Watching Dandelions & Mason Bees
Commit Acts that Nurture the Heart
Mason bees flit from dandelion to dandelion. Their golden wings and small bodies are easy to overlook. Sitting in the grass affords me a closer inspection

I can't understand why anyone would consider dandelions weeds. The blossoms scatter across meadows and lawns like tiny returning summer suns. Often, these blossoms provide the first food for pollinators, like these silent mason bees. Pluck the flowers and you can make dandelion wine. Pluck the feathery globe of dandelion blossoms gone to seed and you hold the power of making wishes in your hand.

The leaves are slightly bitter and edible. Salad season is nearing and already I have greens to add to the mix. Those who do not understand the gift that is a dandelion curse the tap root. Home improvement stores even sell a special tool to dig the roots, not to mention dangerous chemicals to kill the plant. Yet the root and leaves are most beneficial; they detox the liver, prevent diabetes, boost iron and strengthen the heart.

I'm sitting in grass surrounded by mason bees and heart-toners. If not by dandelions, then how do we nurture our hearts?

I've been grumpy with my husband lately. As we approach 28 years of marriage, I recognize a dip. The path to longevity in relationships includes highs and lows. Couples who want to forever be in love are shocked the first time they hit a dip. The heart might recognize love, but we have to do the nurturing. We have to keep our relationships heart-healthy.

Dandelions don't bloom every day of the year and neither does our heartfelt love for one another.

The grumpiness will pass if I practice patience and loving acts. My loving acts are simple and constant, mostly. I cook his breakfast before he goes to work, and most days I cook his dinner, including fabulous BBQs now that the weather is sunny for such outdoor cooking. If I withhold these simple acts, I can almost feel my heart shrink. Yet, I want to experience something other than grumpiness with my spouse.

Some couples renew their wedding vows. I've known people to take elaborate renewal vacations to Hawaii or on cruise lines. Other couples have thrown big shindigs with gaudy party favors and elaborate invites. And some have paired up for high-risk adventure such as zip-lining through the Amazon jungle to re-spark the heart.

For us, the moment simply happened, unplanned without invites or plane tickets. We renewed our vows of commitment through a shared near-death, heart-stopping experience.

With the return of dandelions and mason bees, the roads to the upper Pack River are free of snow. Well, almost. It started out with me feeling grumpy toward him because he was driving our car up what was more or less a muddy two-track winding higher and muddier into the mountains. We reached a spot rutted by 4-wheel drive trucks and I said, "We can't go through that."

He grinned and shifted the car -- a car, not a truck -- and said, "Yes we can."

Gripping my seat, grumpiness flared into full marital fury. Why had I married a three-year-old? When would he grow up?

We made it through only to get high enough up the road where the snow was yet drifting and melting. Beneath a tall span of pines was a clear patch where we could get turned around. I could see the roaring Pack River coursing with spring snow melt and I wanted photos. Once turned around, we stopped and I headed to the river.

The silts in the Selkirk mountains are blue-gray. When the snow melts and silts churn, the water doesn't look muddy, it appears glacial blue. With huge frothing rapid over boulders that range in size from pumpkins to smart-cars, the river echoed down the forested canyon. With eyes only for the river, I didn't heed my surroundings.

Our dogs -- his dogs -- cavorted like children and stepped into the churning waters. They galloped upstream and I snapped my camera doing a full circle and when I saw my spouse coming at me he looked grim and determined. Had he grown heart-weary of our relationship, too? He seemed on course to push me into the river.

In a low and calm voice he said two words, "Charli...moose.."

How I missed walking right past a moose, which is as large as a horse, is beyond me. Even the dogs zipped past her. Her. The worst gender to meet on the trail when dandelions are in full bloom in the valleys below. A female moose is deadly.

Just then, my husband did an incredible thing; he stepped between me and her. That one act was greater than 28 years of cooking breakfasts. That one act renewed our vows of love, commitment. That one act nurtured both our hearts. He took on til death do us part. And we were looking at it.

Incredibly, our dogs returned from up river and saw the moose and gave her chase. His dogs -- our dogs -- stepped between us and her. What happened next is unheard of; the moose turned and ran. Moose do not turn and run. Moose kick, charge and stomp. They hold their ground. This one did not, and Todd told me to run to the car. He went after the dogs.

Once at the car, which is not necessarily safe as moose are capable of destroying a car, I called for those dogs like a desperate mother calling for a lost child. Todd trailed them for almost a mile before they turned back miraculously unscathed. It was a miracle that none of us were injured.

My husband knows he has hero status now. I don't doubt his love. Nurturing is vital, big or small acts. We have to nurture our own hearts to be able to love another. We have to practice that love when it is difficult.

Those dogs mean the world to my husband. I know that without a doubt. But I know that I mean the world to him, too and he to me. So when I feel stuck with a special needs dog, I remember what we all mean to one another.

So here I sit among the dandelions and mason bees holding my dog -- our dog -- in the throes of a full seizure. It's a little act, one he knows I'll do because I love him and these two dogs. The other dog waits patiently by the door understanding that his sister is helpless but being helped. He'll lick her face when we return inside.

Nurturing the heart is never easy, but we can't mistake dandelions for weeds. Sometimes the very things that annoy us, feed us. Embrace a life full of dandelions and live the big and small moments fully.

This post is part of a #1000Speak movement happening every month. Learn more at 1000Speak for Compassion.


  1. beautifully written with what a comparison :)

    I agree marriage needs so much of give n take besides love and understanding. Gotta keep a check on one's heart during that time! Cause once the heart is attuned, nothing needs to be kept on check :)

  2. I have also had that experience of feeling my heart shrink when I withhold small acts of kindness. I believe nurturing our spouses happens in the small, every day moments when we show our desire to alleviate suffering, and fulfill a need. And I agree, dandelions get a bad rap. :)

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! It is indeed in those small acts that we shrink or grow. And especially, thank you for recognizing the value of dandelions! :-)

  3. Oh you old sweetie. I secretly love dandelions even if I've committed to a proper English lawn that allows for no such interlopers. Your metaphor is so spot on and the moose story both powerful and touching. Love the image of you then hub then the dogs, each acting as a barrier against the Beast.

  4. I do have my soft spots! ;-) I was saving the moose story and glad I did. It worked well with the dandelions and nurturing.

  5. Those moments of challenge define who we are and what is truly important to us. So many times the challenges have helped us out of the "dips" as you so appropriately call them. We seek each other out and find our center. I love dandelions too. They ARE spring.

    1. Well said, Julie! We find our center. And yes, dandelions are spring and I'm so happy to live in a place where spring is abundant!

  6. Ahh Charli, took me so long to get over here and I am blessed beyond words by your beautifully written story of dandelions and mason bees and the nurture of the heart, which is on my mind in more ways than one. Love the quote, so, so important. But what I love the most and what speaks the loudest is the photo of your hubs carrying one of your dogs. What more can I add to that? So glad you were all safe, what a story and what a wonderful storyteller. Hugs...

    1. Thanks for coming over here and reading! I like that photo, too!

  7. What a gorgeous story and beautiful writing, Charli. I was with you every step of the way, up hills and down dales. The heart certainly does need nurturing, without commitment it is easy to drift apart. The wish to stay together, to stay strong must be fed with everyday actions and reminders. Sometimes it is easy to think the embers have gone cold, but they just need to be whispered to and reawakened. I like the way you have shared your story. Its shows your frailty, your humanity and your strength. I had a recent similar discussion with my hub re drifting apart. My take was that if we were, it was a choice, it didn't need to be. Sometimes with different interests and needs it is difficult to find a reason to stay together. Our holiday was a time to remember and reconnect.
    I'm pleased that moose didn't want to connect!

    1. I like how you say this: "Sometimes it is easy to think the embers have gone cold, but they just need to be whispered to and reawakened." It does come in whispers! We do drift and need to make re-commitments. And yes, I'm glad the moose didn't want to connect!