At the gates of dawn
Tunes for a Monday Morning

On St. Valentine's Day

Kimberley Fairies by Terri Windling

Cactus Fairy Sweethearts by Terri Windling''To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.''

 -  C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)

''Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.''

  - Lao Tzu

Happy St. Valentine's Day to my husband and family (near and far), and to all of you and your loved ones too. If you'd like to read about the folklore of valentines, go here.

On the north Devon coastPictures above: "Kimberley Tree People, Norfolk" and "Prickly Cactus Fairies, Arizona" from my sketchbooks. Howard, Tilly and me on the north Devon coast (photo taken by our daughter).


I woke Clare on this Valentine's Day with my usual ranting analysis about what the bloody politicians have done as reported on the news:

("I mean is the human race suicidal or what?")

I then rant about the amount of washing up I've just done:

("I didn't know we had that many plates, and what exactly did we have for dinner last night? Because whatever it was I can't get it off the pans!")

I go on to rant about the fact that certain nameless beasts have been in the cupboards again and one has left what I can only refer to as an 'arse print' on one of my preliminary drawings:

("I swear they go in search of mud, oh, and one of them has deposited what I think is a half-eaten slug in your slippers...No, I'm not getting it out, they're your slippers!")

I then rant on about the fact that Valentines Day is just commercial exploitation of the general public on the part of card, chocolate and countless other manufacturers of countless other useless commodities:

(No I haven't got you a card! I've made one instead....Well, what do you think it is? It's patently obvious isn't it?...Yes it is!...It doesn't look like any such thing....No it doesn't!....Well, anyway, I've brought you breakfast in bed. The bacon isn't soggy! No it isn't. Well mine's perfectly crisp...")

Romance isn't dead in our household, just a little more robustly belligerent than you'd expect.

A perfectly respectable way to celebrate the day, Stuart! Particularly the handmade card, whether grumpily delivered or not.

If one avoids the commercial nonsense (always a good rule, not just holidays), I rather like Valentine's Day...if only because it's folkloric, and cheers up an otherwise dreary mid-winter month.

In our household, it's an excuse for Howard to make some good food (he's focused on Portuguese cooking at the moment) and to crack open a bottle of good wine. But then, we use just about anything as an excuse for that:

It's the end of the week!

The dog has had her shots!

It didn't rain today!

We'll celebrate anything. We are people of simple delights.

Simple delights are the best, and provide the best excuses. Neither myself nor Clare are particularly fond of wine, but we've got some good ale lined up for tonight's meal and also some particularly fine single-malt whiskey!

As as avid birder, and having shared my home with a cockatiel for the past 25 years (my buddy Arlo), I am delighted to read The Folklore Society's account that Valentine's Day may have begun by medieval birdwatchers. Happy Valentine's Day to you all!

Seattle is in bloom for Valentine's Day--a very mild winter has hastened spring. (Not a good thing, but for today it's sweet.) Sending dreams of blossoms and their sweet scents to you and yours, wishing you love year round.

In case you haven't seen this, a droll Valentine's Day post:

this from Edna St Vincent Millay for the mix (a day late):
Modern Declaration
I, having loved ever since I was a child a few things, never having wavered
In these affections; never through shyness in the houses of the rich or in the
presence of clergymen having denied these loves;
Never when worked upon by cynics like chiropractors having grunted or
clicked a vertebra to the discredit of these loves;
Never when anxious to land a job having diminished them by a conniving
smile; or when befuddled by drink
Jeered at them through heartache or lazily fondled the fingers of their alert
enemies; declare

That I shall love you always.
No matter what party is in power;
No matter what temporarily expedient combination of allied interests wins the war;
Shall love you always.

To love is to be vulnerable, indeed. I've always been touched by the CS Lewis quote and remember it when my timid heart needs to practice its courage.

For us in Saudi Arabia Valentine's Day is not exactly widely celebrated, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. The weather is already warming up but it hasn't gotten too hot yet, so we took our dogs for a long walk and visited with our horses. A fitting tribute to Valentine's Day because really, there is nothing I love more than my goofy animal crew.

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