One of my favorite places in the neighborhood is the produce department of the local Whole Foods. Banks of flowers to the left, produce to the right and front, piles and piles and piles of beautiful green and red and orange and yellow foods. It’s almost too much for me, honestly–I am drunk on the colors in seconds and then wander the store flushed and dazzled and without thought. Great for an artist’s date.
(photo is obviously not whole foods, but a market in Spain. Nice, huh? Photographer is Robin Elaine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robinelaine/)
This afternoon, I stopped in to buy smoked fish for Christopher Robin’s Valentine’s Day supper. Smoked red trout, crab cakes, salad with cranberries and goat cheese, and dessert of giant red strawberries with parrano cheese. My favorite cheap Chardonnay (Barefoot) to go with it.
The checker was a middle-aged woman sliding toward wisewoman status, her hair long and dry, her voice the worn rasp of a longtime smoker. "Is it Wednesday or Valentine’s Day for you?" she asked.
"Oh, definitely Valentine’s Day. Why not?" I said. "How about you?"
Her sigh was weary. "Only Wednesday. Even though they make me wear this rose." She turned her head to smell it on her shoulder, a giant red bloom, just opening, as velvety and sexy as a boudoir. She muttered something I didn’t quite catch and I wondered if she was lonely. If she didn’t like the holiday because it was about lovers and she didn’t have one. Her hands were bare of rings, but that means nothing.
Feeling apologetic for my fish and strawberries, which seemed suddenly seductive, I said, "Well, it is nice to have a holiday in February. The days are so short, and it’s been so dark lately. It’s just nice to have something to cheer us up."
She stopped and blinked at me. "That’s true! I never thought of it. Because people have been coming in all day, buying things and they’re happy and it’s making everybody cheerful." She scanned my milk. "I’m just going to keep thinking about that! A midwinter holiday. Right!" With a flourish, she rang out my order and presented me with my receipt. "You," she said with particular emphasis, "have a very nice day."
Yes. You, too, my dear.
And all of you. Celebrate the dark days of winter with some red flowers and candy hearts and fuzzy kisses. Remember, there’s no law that says the love has to be for a sweetheart. Buy your dog a bone, your cat a fish, your mother a flower, your body a luxurious bath bomb. Just go love something or somebody.