Oh February, you fickle month, you. Being a resident lover of winter (best season forever and ever amen), even I have never met a person who really loves February. Funny, then, that the holiday representative of love falls smack in the middle of this gelid, forgettable month. As if the collective groan of Midwest society wasn't enough, Lent — a liturgical season of fasting — often lays claims to February. Enter me. For more than a decade I have hailed Valentine's Day as my second favorite holiday of the year, and I always mean it. My reasoning has nothing to do with random acts of kindness or saying 'I love you' an extra time; I'd wager I am already at maximum capacity with telling my husband I love him. Roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are certainly of no interest to me (though I'm not in the business of turning those things down).

Valentine's Day is the day when I get to offer my affinity for winter and all things pale pink to those around me. Stews become romantic and cracking a bottle of mead is reasonable. The craft chest gets opened and I design Mark's annual valentine. In college we would hole up together and cook a time-intensive meal like traditional paella. Now we opt for cooking for others because we can. We spent all of February 14th preparing a four course meal for my parents and oldest sister. It was simple, Mediterranean, and in our wheelhouse.

I sliced each Blue Adirondack potato with wonder. Vibrant purple vegetables in winter: what a treasure. Our table settings included my mother-in-law's first dish set, now our first, gold cloth napkins handed down from my sister, and new flatware—the dearest wedding gift from our grandma (who spent months watching the 'specials' so as to pick up each piece when it went on sale). We had the aural delight of listening to the entirety of The Beatles discography on vinyl. A Valentine's Day not unlike other days of the year, but noteworthy in its own right. So while I'm not here to convert anyone to loving a holiday famous for being unloved, I would like to make the assertion that Valentine's Day can be non-commercial and worthy of celebration if we make it so.




Five weeks ago, more or less, we moved our wedding plans forward five months to January. Now we are getting married in five days. Life in the interim has been a whirlwind in the truest sense of the word. Chaotic, tiring, very special, and quite full (of everything). In the scope of our own existence, it seems that we are living in extraordinary times. Preparing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for marriage has added a bit of gravitas to the daily agenda. 

Yet I have not felt a heaviness in this preparatory period. If anything, much peace has been found in the very ordinary routines & provisions of each day leading up to the big one. Indeed, both of us have taken up special preparations, for which we had not carved out time in the past. It would be silly to claim that we have not heightened our attention to body care routines, or that we have not expanded our efforts to transform my bachelor pad into a marital home. But I anticipate that most of those endeavors will return to the mean after our trip up the altar. More impactful, I think, has been the resurgence of a few habits of old. 

putting on a record

I have started making music again. That is, actually recording the music that floats around in my head but tends to lose out to something else, usually apathy. For whatever reason, I tend to listen more closely to the chord structures & rhythms of the universe when there is a lot going on in my life. (P.S. If you'd like to hear those sounds as I hear them, feel free to have a listen here.) 

The aroma and delightful crackle of fresh baked bread has returned to my kitchen, too. Perhaps the simple act of mixing flour, salt, water, and yeast in their proper proportions helps to maintain balance & order in my life. I do not know for sure, but it seems reasonable. What I do know is that the joy provided by a time-tested personal pursuit such as baking bread far exceeds any satisfaction I could obtain from limiting the amount of gluten or carbohydrates in my wedding diet. (Relevant notes: I am not on a wedding diet & the bread recipe is forthcoming.)

Beginning this weekend, so much is set to change in my life—like the ever-changing pattern of cracks & crevices along the surfaces of the breads I bake; like the ambient noise, made up of different daily traffic & weather patterns, heard faintly behind the vocals I record. And yet, so much is set to remain the same. Like the very importance of making music & baking bread. Like the love & commitment I have felt so deeply for the woman I am ready to call my wife.