I had the pleasure of chatting with Julie Tilt, one of the co-owners here at Hummingbird. We caught up a little, then I asked her some fun questions about love. Here we celebrate Valentine's Day and hear candidly from Julie about her being Love Birds with Charlie, the other co-owner.
How did you two love birds meet?
Charlie and I met at Lost Valley Education Center in Dexter, Oregon. I was co-leading an apprenticeship program in Organic Gardening, Permaculture, and Medicinal Herbs. Charlie enrolled as an apprentice in the summer of 1995. I was a single Mom and he was a single, talented, competent, handsome man, I could not imagine how he would be interested in me.
Can you tell us about your first date?
Our first date was a hike along Blue River. We brought dinner and had a picnic on the river bank and talked until the sunset. Of course, we weren’t planning to talk into the night—we didn’t bring any flashlights. The hike back to the car was in a very steep ravine along the river, and it was pitch black. So we did what any normal person would do in that situation... we took off our shoes and hiked back barefoot with our eyes closed, feeling our way in the dark, using all of our senses. It was enchanting and magically romantic. We almost made it out without casualties, but near the end of the trail, Charlie ran into a branch that poked him in the eye. The next day he had a black eye and we told our community that I had hit him because he tried to make a move on me!
So how do two love birds go from there to where you are now?
Charlie decided to stay at Lost Valley and we taught the apprenticeship program together for several years. The community members created the most beautiful wedding for us in 1998. This was one of the wonderful benefits of living there.
In August of 2003, we purchased Honey Heaven from Eugene Scott as he was retiring. We began to expand and broaden the diversity of products we offered. We thought a name change that embodied our spirit would be appropriate. We chose the hummingbird because of its versatility—it flies in all directions—and its gentle nature—it sips the nectar of the flowers without harming the earth.
Now, looking back after being together for over 27 years, parenting two incredible girls, I have to say, it has truly been a blessing to be with Charlie. I feel like we have grown up together. We have had many lovely fun times, and many hard challenging times as we learned to navigate the relationship with both of our baggage and hurts from the past. The gift has been the changes I have made in myself with this amazing man there to witness and hold me in the process. No one else knows me as well as Charlie, and no one else really sees me and honors me in my humanness as much as Charlie. He has seen me at my absolute worst and still reached out a hand to comfort me. Over the years, we have developed a deep respect and a true love for each other. We want to be together until the end.
Do you have any advice for other love birds?
This is the miracle of relationships over time. Sometimes, I think couples give up too soon or do not find good help in cultivating skills in a relationship. As a culture, I think we have forgotten the true purpose of marriage... learning to love another unconditionally. Learning how to give to your partner in service to one another. A relationship is about giving. Love is action. Meaning, giving and doing things for your partner. Imagine if both partners have this as their guiding principle. Imagine both partners treating each other like royalty. We can change the world with that kind of love and respect. It starts in our families.
Of course, Charlie and I still have much to learn and many more ways to grow to change ourselves. How lovely to have a partner to do this with together. Every day I am overwhelmingly grateful to have such a loving partner. This I wish for everyone.
Happy Valentine's Day!