Saturday, February 2, 2008

Things that make me happy #7

Love Nuts.

In my living room sits a glass jar of nuts. That's right, nuts. Love nuts to be exact. Why you ask do I keep a jar of halved nuts in on display? I shall explain. In 1997, Jesse was 2 years old. He was like most little boys and loved to be outside getting dirty. I always let him run around in the grass barefoot, something Grandpa was, and still is, horrified that I allow. "Put something on your feet God dammit" is my father’s battle cry. Every sickness we ever got from childhood to adulthood was caused because we didn't wear socks or we walked around the yard without our flip-flops on.

Jesse was the kid who put everything in this mouth, edible or not, he had to stick it in his mouth to know it was real and then hand me the spit covered object to marvel at. Of course this meant he had to be watched every waking minute of the day so he wouldn't swallow an earring, or a bottle cap, or any other object that we didn't clear from the room. My house was sparse and devoid of any object under 3 feet for almost 5 years. One summer afternoon he walked over to me in the yard while I was planting flowers; his cheeks bulging like a bullfrog. It was a familiar sight. I held one hand out in front of him and went with the two finger scoop. Out popped a caterpillar…an inch long gypsy moth caterpillar. "Fuzzy Mama" was his response. Fuzzy indeed. Hey as least he didn't chew it. That same month, the same story unfolded...bulging cheeks.....two finger scoop...waiting hand ready for the slimy object...when out pops and empty shell of a nut. I explained for the hundredth time that we don't put things in our mouth that we pick up off the ground. He smiled and held out his tiny hand that was clutched in a fist. He opened it and proudly showed me the other half of the nut that did not go in this mouth and said "Love you Mama". In the center of that nut was the perfect little heart. It was just about the sweetest thing I had ever seen.

I kept that half a nut in a hinged shell that a good friend of mine brought me back from Hawaii. It sat in my hutch, un-noticed for a long time. The next summer Jesse found more “love nuts” and always excitedly brough
t them to me. Soon we had a half dozen of them. I decided that they need a place of honor so I found a beautiful glass jar that we put them all in to. Over the years Jesse and Evan brought me lots of them. They never set out to look for them, they'd just find them. This past summer Evan found one that wasn’t split in two. The first time we had seen one that wasn’t in half. We brought it in the house and carefully spilt it open and sure enough, 2 hearts. Evan said “We should send one of these to Mitch”. We were all missing Mitch terribly at that point. So a love nut got mailed to Missouri. When Mitch opened it and told his friend Mark’s kids the story of the love nut, they wanted to find their own love nuts. Kinda neat huh?. We have no idea what kind of tree this nut comes from, we have never seen one growing on a tree, the kids have only found them on the ground. Some have the “meat” in them, some don’t, but the heart is always there. I started to date them a few years back, just so we can see how many we find in one year.

Every time I look at that jar I think about that happy moment when one of them hands me a love nut, so excited at yet another find. I always get a kiss and a “love you”. It doesn’t get much better than that.
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