Sunday, July 15, 2012

Built with Love

Doodle Doo Farm's Coop                               Copyright: Nancy Shobe
Winston Howe knows how to love.

After this English farmer lost his wife of 33 years 17 years ago to a sudden heart attack, he decided to plant thousands of oak saplings in her honor on their 122-acre farm in South Gloucestershire.

His secret? In the middle of the trees he planted an acre-long shape of a heart, the tip of it pointing toward the town his wife grew up in.

Howe often sits in the middle of the heart in a seat he built and remembers his wife, Janet--their 33 years of marriage; the obvious love they had for each other. Every spring, the blooming daffodils rise to greet him, bulbs that he planted years ago to fill the interior of the heart. Daffodils symbolize rebirth and new beginnings, but perhaps Mr. Howe doesn't even know that.

The only way that the heart can be seen is from the sky. It's as if Mr. Howe purposely built it as a secret, a symbol that only his wife, Janet Howe, and other angelic beings could see. Mr. Howe's heart went unnoticed for years until a hot air balloonist flew over it. It became a story in England's The Telegraph.

The coop door frame "Built with Love" resides in my backyard, on my hill, just underneath a full-grown Brazilian Pepper and next to a smattering of succulents. It was built for me by a significant other for my birthday. It was his way of bringing forth my dream--to have chickens.

He purchased the chicks and hid them at a friend's. He spent a week hammering and sawing up on the hill. Once in awhile, I would hear a swear word float down through the plum trees like a squawk from a frustrated hen. He suffered a staph infection, cuts that required vaseline and bandages, and many nasty bruises. But, he finished the two-tiered coop and in went our brand new chicks.

I was enchanted. I was thrilled. I had the coop and my chickens. And, he made it happen.

One day we had an argument. Disappointment, anger and sadness hung like a thick fog in the air. We couldn't see our way through the confusion. He disappeared into the backyard for several hours. I stayed inside. We were better off in separate places.

The next day I trekked up the hill to freshen the hens' water and throw them some morning seeds. As I opened the door to the coop, I saw written on the frame, with what must have been a Sharpie marker, the words, "Built with Love."

And, the words remain. As a reminder . . .

Just a couple of months ago, I planted mahogany nasturtium around the coop. Mahogany red for his sweat and labor. Nasturtium for his charity and patriotism.

When was the last time you built or created something out of love?

We often go through our days doing our lists of should-ofs, have-tos, and musts with grimaces on our faces. What if we took those same grimaces and turned them into grins, filling our hearts with love as we built or created something? What difference would it make?

I am reminded of the book and movie, Like Water for Chocolate. The protagonist,Tita, loves to cook but she unintentionally begins to infuse her emotions into the food she is making. The people who dine on her culinary talents are overtaken with the same emotions. Through magical realism, the book/movie makes a good point:

Isn't it true that we affect everyone around us by the emotions that we put into our work?

I dare you, at least today, to put passion and love into whatever you do. Smile, even it's your most hated work. Dance in your mind, sing a silent tune, smirk as if responding to an inside joke. Is someone irritating you a little bit? Stop judging, be compassionate, be kind to him/her.

At the end of your day, sit back in your chair or your car or however it is that you end your day and reflect on the people and the environment around you.

Did your positive attitude make a difference? Did your infuse your compassion and kindness into others?

Did you build the love?

Are you sitting in the center of your heart?

Here's my gift to you for the day, a passion flower that grows outside my door . . . because there is nothing more sacred than love, compassion and kindness.


  1. WOW!What a wonderful writing...REALLY made me think! Thank you SO MUCH! I will surely think differently now... <3 ~LL~

  2. Beautiful post, Nancy. You inspire all of us....

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  4. When can I get the book! I love you!!!!