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We’re barely into February, but already I’m asking: “Who could possibly be less than excited about the arrival of this month?”
Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, is just around the corner – with its age-old promise of good things to happen and garden catalogs arriving to suggest there are many other things to look forward to. Combining the two events can easily cause excitement.
Valentine’s Day is usually thought of as a time of special emphasis toward things we love and what better time is there than now for what we love to look at and eat?
Even though Valentine’s Day, as we are occasionally reminded, harbors a mysterious ancient and legendary history best left alone, we can enjoy the romantic aspects of our modern day versions if we want to. Like most stories coming from the past, a lot of changes have taken place over the years and leave us open to accepting new ways.
In my grade school years emphasis was placed, perhaps more than today, on acknowledging historical events and other significant calendar dates throughout the school year. Of no lessened value was the attention given to exchanging valentines in February.
During art classes in the week before the day’s arrival we would cut out heart shapes from red construction paper or plain white tablet paper crayoned red, scrawl on names and messages and stuff the results into the big decorated box on the teacher’s desk. Some of the nicer examples would be pasted on the windows (and a few more tacked on each other’s desks for good measure.)
On the big day we would exchange the valentines and enjoy lots of candy and other goodies provided by our teacher and parents.
As for the gardening connection to February, when still another catalog arrived recently, I immediately leafed through it and was quickly mesmerized by the brilliantly offered pictures of vegetable and flowering plants. They always look so healthy – quite unlike the ones I raise – but encouraging for another try.
In the vegetable section I paused at the photo of one strange little bulbous plant identified as a pickle – described as good in every way: disease resistant, high yielding, easy to grow and quick to vine.
I mentally cataloged it as a likely future weed in my garden. I also noticed that many of the vegetables did not bear names I am familiar with. What has happened to the old reliable ones we would go back to year after year? Perhaps their names are lost in generational changeovers.
Flipping forward to the flowering plants portion I found the same lack of familiar names abounding there.
But there was one enticing plant referred to as a chocolate vine. (ummm, maybe I would like to try that …) It has lovely purple flowers with fruits that smells of chocolate, tastes like pudding.
But, oh, yessss! Here we go, strawberries: red, heart- shaped, juicy, plump little valentines; real pluses, definitely food; keepers regardless of their unfamiliar names. Come to think of it why has no one ever thought of naming them happy valentines?