Dirt Girls and the Love Fern

By: Heather Curlee Novak Last Updated: August 1, 2011

Heather-Novak-Love-FernI'm not a great friend. I try, I do but I'm not the person who shows up to clean the house for you (have you seen me cleaning mine lately?) or offers to babysit your kids all day long (I'm good for one hour and then I get twitchy.) I meet a lot of people I really enjoy and want to get to know better but I'm not great about knowing them deeper. My husband calls me the Five Year Old because I talk to everybody. He tries to remind me I can just enjoy people and do not have to be best friends with everyone I know.

I'm fortunate to be a "connector" personality; I know many folks and thrive on introducing them to each other so they can build relationships. Maybe so they meet better people for deeper friendships than I can offer? Just today a friend texted me to check in, afraid that perhaps I was annoyed with her since I didn't reply to an email she sent and had been awol on texting back today as well. I called her immediately. Well, fairly soon, and reassured her of my fondness and adoration. It is just that with two young ones under three the days get away from me. Every day. And they get far away before I can reign them back in and corral the scraps left over.

Like this post for example...I'm not sure how long ago this happened and I am just now writing it.

My friend Susan called me up one weekday morning and asked if I would like some ferns from her yard. "Heck yes!" I said. She offered to bring them over that morning. "Heck yes!" I said. I love most anything free and/or delivered to my house. She offered to plant them for me. Guess what I said? Yup. If I wasn't already happily married I'd be thinking about marrying her right up. It was a harried day and she even offered to keep our girls outside as she worked so I could get some things done a little simpler. Do you see where this is going? Oh. My.

Susan said the ferns were special to her and she wanted me to know the story behind them. They came from Mrs. Marilyn Gertsmeier, her neighbor who used to be big in the local Valparaiso Garden Club. She had admired her gardens from a distance and then one day a bucket of ferns was on her steps from Marilyn. She planted them with delight and then as she moved from that house to the next she brought some with her, often sharing splits with friends, even the friends who don't deserve her fern love, her love ferns.

Susan came to my house with her daughter Julia, took my Portia outside and went to work. She said they were dirt girls that day. She kept asking questions about where I might want the other flowers she brought over planted (swoon!) and I kept reassuring her anywhere she planted them (and I didn't have to plant them) would be awesome. I was so tickled by her generosity and love.

We had spent a lot of money to landscape after our plumbing issues destroyed our front yard. We also put in a back patio, roofed a garage and had landscape beds put in the front yard with just mulch. There wasn't money in our budget to plant anything this year. I had planned to move some splits around and beg some things off of friends like Susan with beautiful gardens over the summer and then buy more plants next year. As we talked and I told her what I thought I would split from my own garden and move, little did I know she would do that for me too. Susan loves well. She loves without expectation of anything in return. She loves patiently, gently and without being overbearing about it. I am blessed to know her.

So my ferns are Marilyn's love ferns given to Susan, then given to me. They are beautiful. I was running through Rogers Lakewood Park soon after and I believe I ran over a bridge dedicated to or paid for by Marilyn...I thanked her for the love ferns. I am so thankful for beauty in gardens, mine or someone elses. I am so grateful for grubby plants uprooted and dropped into a bucket, passed from friend to friend to friend spreading fern love or just friend love from house to house and heart to heart. I hope that as my years move forward I am more willing and able to dig up whatever I have to offer my friends, bring it to them, and install it in their hearts with such love. And I pray it grows.

Heather Curlee Novak is a Tragically UN Hip Mama, Inspiring Speaker, Distracted Writer, Radio Personality and Glacially Fast Runner. I live each day as if it were my last and do my best to love out loud! I am very happily married to my personal Prince Charming John. (Thank you, God!) We are in the midst of raising two darling and maddening Cupcake Girls. Our pack also includes a huge crazy dog named Steve and a wide variety of family and friends. I find people fascinating and get a real kick from encouraging them personally and professionally. Read more from Heather at Live Your Love Out Loud!