A Valentine’s Day Ode to Love, Good Men, and Farming

I used to think Valentine’s Day was a commercialized holiday. You shouldn’t need a special day of the year to show someone you love them. While cut flowers are nice, I preferred a potted plant I could put in the ground so its beauty would last instead of die. Gifted sweets when I just got back on the wagon from holiday binge eating was not appreciated. Plus pink and red are not my favorites.

Fast forward to my mid-life awakening, I still don’t attach expectations to Valentine’s Day, but I appreciate it.

After a couple years of ranching full time now, I have settled into full appreciation of living with the seasons. While the alpacas (goats, cats, dogs, and chickens) still need care through the cold, winter is a time to let our lives and the grass rest. February is typically the worst of winter weather, so I was not surprised to learn Valentine’s Day may have had origins in a pagan festival of fertility; this weather is good for cuddling up! It is also when we begin to look ahead to spring: buying seed for planting and planning the growing season.

But the short days remind me there is still time for rest and allow for my personal growth. I am grateful for the luxury of heated waterers and for good hay farmers that make it possible for coffee on the couch watching the bird feeder and cozy evenings sipping hot toddies in front of the fireplace. (For those who don’t know a good hot toddy, google it. Be sure to use bourbon. You’re welcome.)

My husband makes the best hot toddy. He also makes, and then brings me that coffee in bed before I even make it to the couch. I am incredibly spoiled. We just celebrated our 12th year of marriage and our lives are full of routine, laughs, stress, demands, apologies, and love. My husband is an incredible balance of strength and compassion. I too often forget to consider his feelings in my emotionally driven barrage of stressed responses to my day. As a work-at-home-mom, he is my daily adult interaction and I unfairly expect him to handle all of my emotional support. As my best friend, he is there for me through all of it.

But as my husband, some of that crap is unfairly directed at him as if it’s his fault. And I need a reminder to put my needs aside and put him at the center of my attention. So in that regard, I will take a commercially driven holiday as a welcome slap in the face to remind me to get over myself and love him. Because good men need to feel their masculinity and love appreciated. Men that support women because of our strengths and despite all our flaws need to be celebrated. I’ll take Valentine’s Day as a reminder to celebrate that love.

After being a weaver for years now, this is the first winter I wove a scarf for him. As my daughter and I worked on it together, I thought about the life my husband and I have woven together. Focusing on what is important in life is hard to do through the distractions of the day to day. But it is worth it. I am choosing this year to focus on controlling my emotional response so that I may respect and honor the man that loves me. I am focusing on responding with love.