Today is St. Valentine’s Day. A commercial celebration of a person who apparently was murdered under Roman governmental decree. Also a person who is said to have cured blindness and deafness by the laying on of hands. His murder is reportedly to have been because he advocated one religion when the government of the time wished the population to participate in a different one.
I have very sensibly purchased a card full of saccharine and a gift full of sugar. I shall give it to someone, who will not, I presume, murder me. It was not a cheap card but you have to be sure with these things. I am still allowed to treat with deity on my own terms, but dealing with the loved one requires a little more circumspection. Heaven can only throw thunderbolts during storms but the wife can do it no matter what the weather.
If this sounds cynical, it is. But it does lead to a number of questions for the student of superstitions. Is St. Valentine’s Day valid for people who are not of his religion? There are lots of us in lots of different divisions of faith…but we all have sweethearts – if we’re lucky – and the commercial pressure is on to promote romance, flowers, jewellery, and confectionery. I don’t think the sellers of canned lovey dovey will check to see if you are the right sort to follow a saint.
I don’t mind romance, love, sex, or anything else that fills up the hours between breakfast and late-night cocoa. I’m up for anything as long as it doesn’t involve teenage music or strobe lights in the eyes. A quiet exchange of expensive cards is fine.
Yesterday the dishes piled up. Normally this would cause great consternation and a flurry of scrubbing. Instead, I went for a walk in a garden and looked for flowers.
The dishes will get washed eventually, and I have a whole portfolio of beauty for my trouble today. I must make these sort of choices more often.
Those of you who know my habits know that what little time I spend in the garden is generally confined to replacing sprinkler fittings or burying dead pets. For the most part I leave the vegetation alone and try to ensure that it does not attack me.
Yet, with the coming of spring and the hardy recurrence of the vegetable pirates I can take some advantage of them by testing out camera lenses on them. There is no subtlety in this – colourful flowers are a sure-fire drawcard for any website. All you really need to do is get them mostly in focus in clear sunshine. And try not to kneel in an ant nest as you are doing it.
If you are quiet and observant you get to see the workings of the suburban zoo – the tiny insects attacking and devouring each other, and the silent passage of the standard skink. I have yet to see the gecko that hatched inside the house but am still hopeful. And I do have a spot of affection for a wooly bear caterpillar I saw at work on the weeds that grow between the patio bricks. I left him eating one and discovered at the end of the afternoon that he had ingested his way down the whole walkway.
If we were real gardeners we would probably have enough wildlife in the back yard to attract David Attenborough. Perhaps we should plant bananas and hope for gorillas.
Flowers at funerals are a strange thing – the dead do not see them, and the living are in no fit condition to appreciate their beauty. The casual observer may be struck by the colour and profusion but that is all. However, they are a tradition that nearly all the world follows, so there they are.
Far better to let people see them long before the day – appreciate them for what they are while living.
This thought came to me when I looked at decades of photographic negatives and files that might ” one day ” be of interest to descendants. Just as the flowers are disregarded, so might the images be – and it would be far better to show them and communicate with them while this could be done with a clear eye and a working mind.
No good leaving books of memories that no-one actually understands – far better to explain them now yourself.