Getting His Whiff On

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Ah!  The smell of spring in the air.  When you ecstatically throw open the window to the light and enjoy the first warm breezes marking the change of seasons.

The sun is shining, the snow is reduced to patches dotting the landscape, the first tiny snowdrop flowers appear in the garden bed and – hard as it tries – winter cannot hold sway over the days to come.

Just a month ago I would take Sylvester out and hold his leash in one hand, balance the recycling bin on top of the garbage can with the other (as I dragged it all to the curb) and tuck the days mail under my chin.  All in an effort to do everything in one trip.

Sub-zero weather calls for creative maneuvering.

But today it’s going to be 65 degrees, so I hook up the mutt and we take countless jaunts up and down the street.  In fact, I purposely find reasons to pop outside.  I’m behind on the housework – but Sylvester and I have to get the mail first.  I seriously need to do my filing so I can complete my taxes – which I will get to right after I take down that winter wreath adorning the carport.

Sylvester and I make so many trips outside that he doesn’t even find any more bushes he wants to mark.

If only the outside looked as nice as the warm sunshine feels.

Instead, I see garbage and mud.  So much soggy ground and mud that my desire to get out in those garden beds and clean up the rotting, winter-dead foliage is impossible to fulfill.  I’ll have to wait until the thawing ground is firm enough.

And the garbage, uncovered from beneath the snow!  Where does all this trash come from?  Plastic bags trapped under bare bushes, water bottles in the middle of the lawn, an unbelievable number of old newspapers… delivered by someone with equally unbelievable aim.

It’s all incredibly ugly.

I feel like I live in a dump, but the neighbor’s lawns don’t look any better and I’m not inclined to wage war with the mud, so I try to ignore the way it looks and concentrate instead on enjoying the newfound warmth.

There’s still a chill if you stay out too long, so these jaunts are fleeting, and I retreat back inside, where I leave the door open and slip up the pane of glass on the storm door, the breeze flowing in through the screen.

As the day continues to heat up, another first sign of spring comes wafting through the house.

Sylvester is thrilled.  It’s clear he thinks this is even better than when I grew kumquats (The Kumquat Thief).  He runs to the door and presses his nose against the screen, audibly sniffing in huge breaths.

Getting his whiff on.

Sylvester’s eyes are shut tight in ecstasy.  His jowls shake in excitement.  And as I run around the house, slamming the window’s shut, I remember what else is out there, soft and gooey, waiting for me to clean it up… a winter’s worth of Syl’s potty breaks, augmented by the corresponding mounds left by neighboring canines.

Ah.  The scent of spring.


Traditions Of Love

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Valentine’s Day elicits strong feelings in people – positive and negative.  There’s the V-Day haters (who’ve had bad relationships or feel pressure because they aren’t currently in a relationship), and the V-Day lovers, (who go about annoying all the haters by declaring how wonderful love is).

I confess, I’m in the lover group, and I live with a romantic man (Mr. Romantic), so there’s no ignoring V-Day even if I wanted to.  Which I don’t.  So sue me.  I believe in love.

Nevertheless, I haven’t always been happy in love, nor have all my relationships been good.  Some have been pretty darn awful, and I’ve put in my time feeling irritated with the whole February 14th “rubbing my nose in it” day!

Plus, as I’ve said before, I think our modern Valentine’s Day is harder than ever on couples (see Love Is Harder Online).

But all that aside…  does anyone even know how this red-filled, expensive card, long-stemmed roses, dinner out, pressure to express our love event even started?

According to the “experts” (whatever that means), apparently not!

Ask most people and they’ll tell you it’s because of Saint Valentine.  But did you know there was more than one Saint Valentine?  I sure didn’t.  Until I looked it up.  No one seems 100% certain which saint it was.  Not to mention that the stories of how it all started are just that… legends… about priests performing forbidden weddings, doing miraculous healings, and spreading the gospel of Christ.

Then there’s the folk traditions and various customs that link Saint Valentine’s with the advent of spring.  One earth-type version has Saint Valentine doing something mystical with the roots of plants, and causing the season’s new growth.

They weren’t all priests either… there’s a ‘Jack’ Valentine that left sweet treats for children at their back doors.  Not sure why he did this, but apparently the kids were scared of him.

My favorite story is that Valentine’s day is when the birds sing songs of love to each other, pick their forever mates and get married.  S-tweet!

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in lots of countries around the world, by lots of different names with lots of different legends and stories.

It’s not all just about romantic love either.

In fact, romance didn’t seem to be the main focus in most of the origins surrounding the celebrations.  Even now, not every country relates the day with romance.

Some interesting facts, according to Wikipedia:

Estonia and Finland translate Valentine’s Day into “Friends Day”.  It’s about showing your friends how much you appreciate them.  In Iran, it’s a festival that combines a celebration of the earth with love towards mothers and wives.

Valentine’s Day is illegal in Saudi Arabia, because it’s seen as a distinctly Christian holiday, not sanctioned by Islam.  The ban has created a black market there for V-Day shop items, like roses.

The countries that spend the most on Valentine’s Day are China, South Korea, and Singapore.

Sadly, much of the local customs and origins of V-Day are being lost around the world, as the westernized, commercialized version of Valentine’s Day spreads and trumps a lot of the original celebrations.  Still, it’s clear that Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love.

It’s about LOVE, period.  Religious love.  Love of nature.  Love of family and friends.

Just LOVE.

I definitely think that’s something to celebrate!