It's interesting that Roger and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day in the traditional sense. My parents always did. They exchanged cards and remembered each other in those kind ways that romantics sometimes do. Even from his deathbed, my father had one visiting child (my older brother) buy a card in January and hide it in a drawer for a month, and had another visiting child (me) fill it out for him to give to my mother on his last Valentine's Day. It was that important. He died one month to the day later. Yet here it is Valentine's Day, and Roger and I don't buy any cards, gifts, candies, or flowers. We spend 24 hours a day together. That's literal. Our affections are expressed in the little surprises we do for each other every day of the week. It's true. One of us sneaks off in the morning while the other is immersed in political readings or Facebook, and makes the bed. Or, Roger will whip up a breakfast frittata. Or, I'll make a fresh batch of maple almond granola. In the evening, every dinner is a celebration. We open a bottle of wine. We hold hands before we eat and thank each other for the meal and the day. When one of us is doing the dishes, the other turns down the bed. It's a daily dance of love we do. Seriously what more could we do on Valentine's Day that we aren't already doing everyday for each other?
We go for a hike. On this Valentine's Day the sun was shining in a sierra blue sky. We headed out in the mid morning, feeling the warmth of temps already in the high 50s on our winter pale skin. We walk a brisk four-mile round trip. All the people on the trail are just as happy as we are to have this beautiful day. Everyone greets each other with a generous "good morning" and a "wow, what a beautiful day..." and walks on. Dogs splashed in the irrigation ditch, and children fished for brown trout. It's that kind of day. Easy.
Off in the distance a pileated woodpecker calls. Then again. We walk on, feeling lucky to be heading in the direction of the sound. We stop and listen. The call is so close, we know the bird is as near as can be. There in a very tall, old snag we see a flash of a red head on a black body. He calls and cranes his neck to find his mate. He calls again. She arrives. The trail is instantly restored to its natural quiet with the two of them together at last on the tree. And for a moment, we think they must be celebrating Valentine's Day.