When the weather warms the air in the spring, bees rush from dandelion bloom to dandelion bloom. What many might find appalling to a green lawn, is the early nourishment of bees. As fall approaches in northern Idaho, the dandelions bloom again and feed the bees sluggish with cold.
No matter the season, no matter the times, love, like bees, must be fed. From youth to old age, love seeks the welcoming blooms that keep it alive.
The Hub is my cosmo. It’s a big purplish-pinkish flower that blooms when it damn well pleases, but I love its independent, wild spirit. It’s hardy, dependable and reseeds itself year after year. Just as the cosmo attracts bees, the Hub attracts me. For 28 years, in fact.
I’m reflecting on the longevity of love as we approach our anniversary. We’re no spring blossoms, but neither are we dead stalks. What keeps our love alive is the same for the bees — it’s all in what we feed it.
Monday night, our middle child arrived from Missoula, Montana. It had been a dry spell for me. My children are like dandelions that I hope to find in abundance in my life (I don’t mean I want an abundance of children, I just want to see and hug the ones I have abundantly). And I do believe that our love for others strengthens our love for our spouses and significants.
Through my husband I have a sister. I’ve often told her that even if the cosmo of our love fades and the Hub and I are no longer significant, I’ll still love her. By the Hub, we have three incredible children who are wild blooms of their own. Like the papa cosmo, they keep me tethered to the nourishment I derive from loving each one of them. Even my friend Kate who lost her bloom too early for me to stand, leaves the garden of her life still flourishing and drawing me near with new friends to love.
We need cosmos and bees in this world. We need to scatter love.
When we love, we smile at strangers. We open the door for another. We ask, “Where are you from?” and we listen. We see loving acts in the world. We commit loving acts at home. We hold hands. We hug. We feed those at our table. We invite others to our table. We pollinate the world with love.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” ~ William Shakespeare
“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
At this juncture of bees feeding in the autumn of life and that of my nearing wedding anniversary, I’m thinking about love 167 years ago.
On a wintry North Carolina, February 21, 1848, nineteen-year-old Cobb McCanles married fifteen-year-old Mary Green. She had black hair and brilliant blue eyes, a real Appalachian beauty. She was only 28 years old when Cobb was shot, and only one year older that her husband’s mistress, who was another dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty.
Love does not feed with the eyes no matter how much we believe that lie. The bee does not crawl all over the cosmo because it’s the prettiest of all the flowers. Pretty is subjective. The more we love someone, the more attractive they become in our own eyes. Even greater familiarity lends to a higher opinion of beauty. Cobb did not love Mary just because she was beautiful and Cobb did not have a mistress because she was more beautiful.
My theory is that Cobb noticed Mary over Sarah because Mary had a more outgoing personality. Cobb’s own father writes about her nature and how everyone was her friend. Mary loved. Sarah was shy and studious. She loved, too but quietly in her mind and from afar. She didn’t initiate the visits.
What changed? Mary lost her mother two years into marriage. I can’t help but think of the impact that had on her as a young wife and mother. Another two years later and Cobb ran a hard campaign to win the county election as sheriff. His budding career, her growing isolation at home with the children. You can read the strain in the pauses between children. In that longest pause, Cobb turned to Sarah. By then she was 22, a spinster because she wanted an educated man. Cobb was that, although he was also a family man.
And love for family won out. You can see a reconciliation in the timeline between Cobb and Mary. And if she wanted the reconciliation, she knew better how to love Cobb. Through his children. Her cooking. Her support of his career. Sarah became the one dependent on Cobb. She was shunned by family and community. Friendless, she asked to go to Nebraska. Why did Mary agree? How did that impact their relationship? What was the nature of their love once settled in Rock Creek?
Important questions as I explore through writing their stories. Love is broader art than the simple paintings historians give. None have tried to understand the love involved. Family. New friendships. Old temptations. When Mary died decades later, she let her tombstone state the finality of her love — she’s buried next to him, simply as Mary, wife of D.C. McCanles.
Yes, love is the air, flitting among the late blooms of dandelions, marigolds and cosmos. It was with our ancestors and it will be with our descendants. And it’s the prompt for the week.
September 16, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a love story. Explore what feeds love. It can be romantic or platonic. It can be devoted or damaged. It can be recovering or enduring. Focus on characters or setting, weaving a 99-word love story.
Respond by September 22, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!
Years Later by Charli Mills
Sarah lost her nerve at the molasses pull. David Colbert McCanles flashed like a brook trout in his military school uniform, taller and more vibrant than any in the Greene barn. Mary Greene had nerve. She dominated dances, her laugh rich as summer honey.
That they married so soon took none by surprise. Sarah hid her love for Cobb until years later, when he’d stop by her father’s store at night. “Keeping books?” A simple question that kept her at the ledgers late, hoping he’d see her light burning.
She gained nerve when she should have told him no.