Saturday, October 16, 2010

Heart Cockles

Now some of you have heard the expression, "Such and such warms the cockles of my heart." We pretty much know what it means -- although we have no idea exactly what it means. In fact, people have not known exactly what it means for a long time but that didn't keep them from using the expression. Way back in 1671 John Eachard muttered, "This contrivance of his inwardly rejoice the cockles of his heart."

There is no answer as to what cockles are. Some will suggest that it refers to the heart's ventricles. Others think that the term cockles refer to some sort of sea mollusk which sounds pretty stupid to me. I think though that we can acknowledge that it means something pretty significant and that we should just stop asking questions.

The younger folks are not quite as attuned to this cockle thing. Just so you won't have to, I tested the notion for you.

Me: "You have nice cockles."

A Young She: "You pervert!"

I think we can say that when the cockles of our heart are warmed it means that we are referring to something that has touched us inside. Something that can bring tears of pleasure to our eyes. It is a feeling that we can recall.

My cockles heat up pretty easily. It doesn't take much -- a news story, a silly little event, a comment -- and the emotional side of me gets all cockled up.


The Old Woman

It was an inconsequential news story about fifteen or twenty years ago. It was one of those stories that a newspaper will stick in as filler on a slow news day.

In a small town not far from here lived an old grumpy, headstrong woman. She would get in her car every Thursday morning to make her weekly sojourn to the market. She knew exactly where she had to go and nothing would deter her. Her eyesight was failing and her method of coping with the horrendous distraction of a confusing world around her was to ignore it. She just wanted to get to the store and back to her small house with her weekly groceries.

So she would get in her car and tootle along at 20 mph on the right side of the road through stop signs and red lights until she would get to her destination. The police would pull in behind her with red lights flashing and she would ignore them and drive to the store. The police would follow her and give her tickets after they would finally confront her in the store parking lot. She tended to ignore the tickets.

Finally she was hauled into court and the judge reluctantly revoked her license. That didn't deter her. Every Thursday she would still get in her car and drive 20 mph to get her groceries. ignoring those silly rules and all those other stupid people on the road.

What were the police to do? Throw her in jail? In the police squad room the sergeant finally threw up his hands and ordered a police escort for her every Thursday morning. So the little old stubborn lady would make her weekly drive every Thursday with the cops stopping traffic at intersections so she could saunter onward violating traffic laws all the way. One doubts she even knew that the police were involved. She just needed to get to the store.

Right? Wrong? I don't know. It was just cockle warming to hear about this. The story continues. The Police Sergeant realized that he was dedicating too much police resources to her on those Thursday mornings. So one day he called off the escort and drove to her house on Thursday morning and told her that it would be his pleasure to drive her to the store that morning. With a grunt she got into the police car and rode to the store. After getting her two bags of groceries, the sergeant drove her back home. She exited the car and started to walk to her house then turned around, looked the cop in the eye, grunted, and then entered her house. Thereafter a cop would arrive at her house every Thursday morning to take her shopping.

I liked the story.

I Would Be Glad to do Thanksgiving, All Except for the Food Part

There was a time when a wife and mother would not dare let the world know that "she didn't cook". I now see women everywhere publicly making this claim without hesitation.

Now I admit this is unfair to include in any kind of analysis of heart warming cockles. You see, anything to do with my kids immediately massages my cockles into submission.

Yes. When I approached my daughter about having the family Thanksgiving at her house, her response was: "Okay. I would be glad to do Thanksgiving, all except for the food part." I suggested that she could perhaps make the turkey and everyone else could bring the rest of the food.

"Okay. How do you cook a turkey?"

I explained that she didn't have to get was more like take the turkey -- after it defrosted -- and throw it into the oven.

"Don't you have to pull out things from the inside?"

Well yes. You stick your hand in one opening and pull out the neck.

"Eeewww. I'm not going to do that. I'll get Michael to do it. Why is there a neck anyway? Why is it in the turkey anyway?"

I explained that some people like necks. But she can just throw it away if she wants. And that it was no big was kind of like a candy cane stuck in the turkey. You just stick you hand in and pull it out that throw it away. And don't forget to pull out the heart and liver and gizzards.

"Eeewww. Gross. Which end of the turkey is this? I'm not going to do that. Can I just leave it in there?"

No honey. You have to pull them out. But don't worry...they are in a little bag so it's not gooey or anything. It really is no big deal. It doesn't matter which end. The neck is in one in and the little bag is in the other end.

"I'm not sticking my hand in there. I'll get Michael to do it. Then what?"

There will be directions on the wrapping around the turkey, which, by the way, has to be pulled off. It will say something like cook the turkey at 325 degrees for twenty minutes for each pound until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

"Wait a minute. You mean my math teacher was right when he said that we will always need to use what he was teaching us? This is getting pretty darn complicated. Do I have to get some kind of roasting pan?"

"This is not as complicated as you are making it out to be. A little math is good. You don't need to buy a fancy roasting pan. I don't know. When you find out how simple this really is -- you may end up cooking a turkey every maybe a roasting pan is good. But you can get one of those cheap tin foil roasters. Oh -- be sure and get some tin foil too. You need to buy the turkey at least a week before Thanksgiving and put it in the refrigerator three days before you cook it to thaw it out. And then..."

"You're going to call me when I have to get the turkey, right? And then you are going to call me again when I  have to cook it, right? You sure you want me to do this?"

Most would just shake their head in exasperation. Not me. When it comes to my kids, my cockles heat to bursting. My daughter will take a leap of faith -- and she will be stunningly proud to have cooked that turkey.

The Chilean Miners are Rescued

Not much to say here. We all know the story. Twelve countries came together, including Bolivia which was having fierce border skirmishes with Chile, bound by a single goal. The goal wasn't just to rescue the trapped miners, but to do it right. Careful planning. Careful execution.

The cockles of my heart are warmed that something actually went right in this world. I feel a little pride for mankind.

I imagine that each of us has their own notion of what warms the cockles of their heart. If you have a moment and something comes to mind, tell me about it. We all want that feeling. We all ache for it. But there is cockle warming going on all around us.

I suspect you have nice cockles.


  1. This is a great post. I have all sorts of cockle-warming stories, but this just happened and is fresh in my mind:

    My husband and I were sitting in our study, me, busily typing at my computer, and him, in the overstuffed chair reading. I could feel his stare and glanced at him while continuing to type out the sentence in my head. I caught his grin as he said, “You have no idea how much I love you...” talk about warming my cockles. I continued typing uninterrupted and responded, “I’m sorry honey—just need to finish this sentence—did you say something...”

  2. I admit to having lovely cockles, especially when warmed - though they are but rarely. I think the Chilean miners are the most worthy warming agents of recent times. There's not much cheering me up right now.

  3. Your three stories have my cockles as cozy as can be. Each of these stories was worthy of it's own post. I've done the turkey thing myself and the first time was a little scary. You are right though, there really isn't much to it.
    As to the miners, It's about time we had a happy ending to something.

    great post Jerry!

  4. Jon Stewart's Rally To Return Sanity warms my heart politically. My grandson warms it every time I think about him and every time he says,--as he's recently learned to do at 3.5 years of age--"Pappy and Gigi, you are my family and I love you guys so much!" Actually, he said, "I love you duys so much," because he couldn't pronounce hard g's until this week. He immediately called me up to ask me what's GOING on around here!

  5. I like your stories, Jerry. A friend walked me through an entire dinner party over the phone and my heart still sings (aka my cockles are warmed) when I remember it. Your daughter will glow, too, and that will be the tastiest bird you've ever eaten. "What does it look like now" is a good question to keep asking... it saved me from baking the rind onto a cheese thing.... she didn't care, she just kept talking me thru it.

    I'm going to read the grumpy old lady story again. I think the grunt is my favorite part.

    Thanks for the smile.

  6. (Nothing worse than cold cockles.) Mine are warmed by my family too... overhearing my husband and my niece laughing together in another room, the sound of puppies snoring on the blanket beside me. Being loved and loving with abandon. Birds on my bird feeder. Hayrides and corn mazes and steamy coffee on cold days. (My cockles are quite easy to warm too, and you have warmed them beautifully today, thank you so.)

  7. My daughter was home from college for Thanksgiving and so we decided to do a turkey in the BBQ. It was going great until my brother-in-law and I got involved in some computer game competition. When my wife reminded me of the turkey I ran outside, lifted the lid... the whole bird was engulfed in flames. Ok so we had "blackened Cajun Turkey" that year. Fortunately my wife had roasted a "backup" turkey in the regular oven.

  8. Thank you for the explanation to the word cockles.;) I belong to the category of women that do not cook and have no problems admitting it.;) Men actually find that appealing as they use it as an excuse to invite me to dinner; the will cook for me.;))
    Hope you had a great weekend,

  9. Great post!Funny how a saying like that can last so long and nobody really knows the meaning, but yet they do.

    Loved the phone convo with your daughter. I remember my first turkey, I was soo intimidated by the whole process.

  10. I have amazing cockles thank you and you warmed them nicely plus gave me a good chuckle. Thanks.

  11. this was a good post. I dont have anything to "jab" it with. It was just plain good. On the "don't cook part", though, I won't say my"Boss" don't like to cook, but i buy here Christmas present in July and hide it in the oven. She ain't found it any year yet..

  12. I too love cockles. Here is my cockle story: This past week, while in CA, my youngest daughter with her first born baby son came to visit all of us at my oldest daughter's home. My oldest daughter's youngest son is rarely still. He is on the go and talking your ears off.

    He wanted to hold his baby cousin. His Mom told him he had to sit very still, do everything his Auntie told him to do, listen, and to be very gentle.

    When my youngest daughter placed her precious newborn baby in her nephew's perfectly still awaiting arms, we all kind of stood "at the ready"...

    My six year old grandson looked up at all of us with his big blue eyes, smiling and bursting with pride. Holding perfectly still and ever so gently and quietly, he sang an impromtu lullaby to the baby.

    There was not a dry eye in the house, not to mention our cockles were crackling like a toasty warm fireplace.

  13. Reading this post was a cockle warming experience for me but from my own life as you asked for, as you know we have a new Grandson who lives in New Mexico and we are in California, so every morning and every night Cindy calls and they hold the phone so Benjamin can hear Granny's voice, this morning she was talking to him and the smile on her face when our Daughter in law told her that Benjamin was smiling the whole while she was talking to him actually warmed the cockles of my heart.

  14. Thank you for the warm cockles of your post, just what was needed on a cool rainy day.
    I've had two of my seven grandkids this week and my cockles are sing a happy song...

  15. I thought there was a song about "cockles and mussels....alive...alive, oh??" I may be mistaken, as I am one of the clueless.

    Like most moms, I get emotional about da boys. I'll randomly think about one of them and text them, "I love you" in the middle of the day. The response I get back looks like a bored young person, a-la this: ._.

    They respond with either a "meh." or a grudging, "Love you too, Mom."

    Cockles warmed, modern-day-techhie-style.

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