As you can see from the picture above, we are celebrating Valentine’s Day in my kitchen. Cards and small gifts have been exchanged: assorted microbrews for my husband, a gift certificate for four sessions of “body work” for my daughter, and two lovely books for me, one a history of haiku and the other “H is for Hawk” which I’ve been dying to read for weeks.
Tulips and candles adorn the table and I am sipping a cup of tea while writing this post. A one-year cancer survivor, I know definitively now that it doesn’t get much better than this.
The wind has finally stopped howling during a night of single-digit temperatures. There were times I felt like I was enclosed in a mountain tent somewhere in the Antarctic waiting out the storm. All day yesterday, and especially in the nighttime, I wondered and worried about people who might be forced to be outdoors, or who might not have enough heat at home. I knew there were volunteers out rounding up the homeless; they are angels in my book.
Today, Valentine’s Day, the sun is shining brightly, the snow is melting off the roof, and the silence is blissful. Even the sound of my husband vacuuming in another room is welcome (as long as it doesn’t go on too long). During breakfast we heard the unexpected sound of birds twittering in the backyard and were amazed to see a bunch of chickadees soaring through the frozen rhododendrons, no doubt searching for something to eat.
Suddenly a pair of blue jays swooped down to the same area where the chickadees had been hiding in the barren azalea bushes. Five minutes later my husband spotted a male cardinal soar across the backyard; a flash of red amidst the leftover ice and snow from an earlier snowstorm. And now, several hours later, one of the feral cats in the neighborhood just appeared in the garden audaciously spraying our miniature boxwoods.
Yes, even on this bitter cold winter day in February there’s a lot of life surrounding us. Friends have been invited to join us for dessert and drinks in front of the fireplace later this evening. I’ve been cleaning for days in preparation. I hate cleaning, so I put it off whenever I can, but there’s a certain level of cleanliness and order I inherited in my genes that can’t be denied when company is coming. We are lucky to have this fireplace; it has been the source of many cozy evenings with family and friends during the almost fifteen winters we have lived in this house.
In a few minutes I will get up from this table, turn off the ipad and resume my preparations for our guests tonight. A planned dinner of leftovers will be followed by a quick cleanup and the arrival of our friends. Nothing big is planned; just an evening of friendly chatter accompanied by drinks, then dessert with coffee and tea. The evening will probably end with myself, my husband and my daughter settling in to watch an episode from the latest TV series we are watching together. Then it’s goodnight, and for me, one of the most delicious parts of the day: Settling down in bed with a good book.
Hope your Valentine’s Day was just as lovely and ordinary as mine; if so, you are as lucky as I am!