From Nature, With Love

 

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Nature sends the sweetest Valentines in the form of heart-shaped surprises. Most of us have smiled at the sight of a cloud, acorn or seashell in the perfect shape of a heart. A universal symbol of love, hearts found in nature are positively sigh-inducing.

My son was very young when he proudly gave me a rock shaped like a heart. I imagine his face beaming at its discovery while playing outside, his tiny hand quickly stuffing it in his pocket for safe-keeping. He found supplies to decorate it, outlining the rock’s shape with red poster paint and carefully painting, in blue, the word love.

It’s a gift I’ve never forgotten, and so began my beloved collection of heart rocks. For more than twenty years, nature has freely offered them. Family and friends find them on their travels and present them to me knowing I will cherish them more than any souvenir.

When my husband and I go hiking, we frequently stop to pick up a rock that catches our eye, gleaming at the bottom of a creek bed or hiding in forested nooks and rocky crannies. We carefully examine it and hold it out for the other to approve. Only those with a certain je ne sais quoi make the cut. The others are given a parting squeeze and tossed back with a wish.

My heart rock collection fills a large tray on our living room coffee table. There are more than a hundred, some the size of my palm, others as small as a dime. Their colors are a soothing palette of nature.

They came from beaches and deserts, rivers and mountains, playgrounds and parking lots. I wonder the story of each one. How old is it? Where has it been? How did nature manage to tumble and turn it until it was shaped like love?

Photographers have captured amazing images of hearts in nature from all over the world ~ a heart-shaped beach in Brazil, a heart-shaped boulder in Joshua Tree National Park, a heart-shaped island in Croatia, even a heart-shaped crater on the surface of Mars.

While such phenomenon would be a thrill to see, I’m just as happy to spy a flock of birds flying in a heart pattern or a perfect heart-shaped leaf trailing from my houseplant.

Those who open their eyes in appreciation of nature are freely showered with her gifts. William Wordsworth wrote this lovely sentiment about her undying affection, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” §

Of Daffodils and Poetry

April is the sweetest month for hopeless romantics with a penchant for all things spring. Add National Poetry Month to the calendar, and it’s enough to make this former literature teacher swoon.

A perfect spring day allowed me to take my classes outside to teach among the birds and the bees and eighth grade hormones in full bloom. There’s nothing quite like reading poetry with youthful hearts inspired by dreamy talk of life and love. My teaching days are behind me now, but I hope you’ll indulge me this month as I celebrate two of my favorite things ~ springtime and poetry!

As familiar yellow flowers pop up to say hello, I’m reminded of a beloved poem by William Wordsworth. A founder of English Romanticism, Wordsworth had an affinity for the natural world and was deeply concerned about the human relationship to nature, especially given the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution.

His poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, reminds us we live in a world of dancing daffodils and twinkling stars! Nature, Wordsworth implies, offers us wealth worth far more than money. And when we’re feeling a little lonely or sad, just contemplating the Earth’s beauty can bring us peace and pleasure. On a deeper level, the poem reveals a sense that nature is but a glimpse of heaven.

I hope you enjoy Wordsworth’s timeless poem, commonly known as Daffodils, and his use of that wonderful word jocund as much as I do! §

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud  

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed and gazed but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. ❤

~ William Wordsworth, 1804