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  • Writer's pictureJayne Lisbeth

My Line of Hearts

When I lived in Vermont I always had a Line of Hearts. It is a vine with heart-shaped leaves. The heart leaves grow from strange looking tiny round bulbs. The vines appear voluptuous, fertile, feminine, with their heart-shaped foliage and tiny bulbs. The vines can not be stopped. They are invincible. Or so I hoped.

In October upon leaving my second home in Vermont in West Windsor, Sherrie, my soul sister, presented me with a Line of Hearts. It was beautiful, safely tucked in the nest Sherrie had lovingly crafted. It was truly a gift of the heart. I named her Linea.

The next morning at 6am Tim and I crept down the stairs on tip-toe so as not to awaken Sherrie and Bill. Our goodbyes, hugs and tears would be unbearable. We made our way silently out of the house to our waiting, packed car, and promptly dumped our poor Line of Hearts in her newly potted nest upside down on the backseat. Aghast, Tim and I replaced Linea into her pot. I fussed over her and hoped for the best. She looked bedraggled and surly.

We drove off not knowing if our new little plant would survive all the way from Vermont to Tampa. I checked on Linea often but received no response to my cooing words of encouragement. Eventually she settled in until we reached the mountains and beaches, bouncing around in her nest with little light, driving over roads haphazard with rain. By the time we reached sunny Daytona Beach Shores Linea was hot and miserable. I’m sure she wondered why we took her from her safe, cool haven in Vermont to the 80-degree tempest of Florida. I delicately carried her to our hotel room and set her on a patio table to breathe in the Atlantic breezes. She seemed to perk up and revive.

Not so for our hotel. We never could have imagined the destruction hurricane Ian had wrought, even having witnessed many hurricanes through the last 33 years as Tampa residents. Below us were piles of crushed cement and erosion-devoured sand. Debris, ruined seawalls and enormous pipes were strewn about like straws. An empty, ruined beach greeted our saddened eyes. Linea didn’t seem affected. She’d survived being dumped, carried over 1288 bumpy miles of travel, through sun, darkness and climate changes before arriving at our vacation hide-a-way. She was resilient. She proved herself a hearty plant and a good traveler. At long last we arrived home and installed our line of hearts, Linea, into her new lodgings. She settled in and began to soak up the peaceful sunlight in my kitchen garden window.

Since arriving home I have been surrounded by illness. Everyone seemed to have either the flu or Covid. Perhaps this has been my narrow perspective, viewed from my couch where I collapsed for three weeks. My companions were tissue boxes, cough meds, Advil and Tylenol PM. I grew tired of sleeping alone without my sweetheart. Instead, I slept sitting up on the living room couch and coughed through the night.

Every morning I roused myself from the couch and wandered into the kitchen for my daily dose of joy. The streaming sunlight welcomed me through my kitchen window, splashing rainbows on the walls.

In the living room I greet my beloved African Violets, in full bloom. “Good morning, my beauties. You’re looking especially fetching today,” They seemed to radiate pride in their lavender and purple blossoms, their velvety leaves spread protectively around their flowers.

On the front porch my marigolds and enormous, constantly blooming Rio Dipladenia waved gently in the morning breezes. I interrupted a chickadee in his flight towards the feeder. Angrily, he berated me with his call, “chickadee, chickadee, chicka-dee-dee-dee,” The breeze was colder than usual. I scurried back inside for my morning cup of tea.

I smile at my precious Line of Hearts. She is well settled into her new home on the window sill. She has not only persevered, she has thrived. She has been busily shooting off new vines from her

strange little bulbs. Since being uprooted from her mother plant, a tumultuous journey through climate changes from Vermont to Tampa, through rain, mountains, sunless days, and finally bathed in ocean breezes from a ruined beach, she has survived. I notice three new tiny leaves sprouting from the end of her vines. Within a day or two they will open into full heart-shaped leaves. She is my lesson in survival and resilience, which I fully embrace.

2022 has been a difficult year for so many. We have suffered through constant illness between ourselves and our friends. We have worried over new threats, a mutated Covid strain, flu or RSV. Across the country we have faced weather’s wrath in devastating hurricanes, battling the cold without power, killing blizzards and deep snow burying us in snow drifts. Yet, here we are, bouncing back with resiliency into a new year: 2023.

I transcribe my words from my yellow legal pad into my laptop, sentences lighting up the screen. Words, language, are my survival. As with all of us, language is in our DNA. Tomorrow I’ll check Linea as I begin another day, searching for new heart-shaped leaves. I will be reminded of all the lines of hearts that stretch to me from Vermont, California, Brooklyn and Philadelphia to Tampa. These are the lines of hearts connecting me to my own survival.

We are resilient, part of the line of hearts of life. We can survive whatever this new year can dish out. Bring it on, 2023. I’m ready.

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