I've been thinking about St. Valentine's Day; how commercialized it's become and how it may seem fraught for individuals who aren't part of a couple or in a committed relationship. Yet I defy you to show me one person who isn't in a relationship involving care and concern for each other. And that's the sentiment that infuses Valentine's Day - love! It doesn't have to be romantic love to count, contrary to what the marketing mavens would have us believe. Roses and chocolates don't have to play a part.
Birds of paradise, Kathmandu, Nepal.
For Valentine's Day, I've taken spring bulbs and flowers to my neighbours who shoveled the snow while my husband was in hospital and to friends who have been incredibly kind and helpful since we moved here.
David and I will spend Valentine's Day at the hospital, where he is having more surgery. We are looking forward to celebrating his improved health soon. After all, that's what really matters: looking after each other. In all our personal relationships, showing love, care and respect for each other on a regular basis means more than hearts and flowers on just one over-promoted holiday per year.
At the florist this morning, a heart-shaped stone had been covered in tiny red rosebuds echoing the heart shape - thus softening the "heart of stone." I asked the florist if Valentine's Day is a big celebration here. "A little bit, but it's not like in the States," she replied. "The Dutch are more cool; more reserved in their emotions."
Whatever your nationality or tendency to wear your heart on your sleeve - even If you aren't feeling the love - these photos may bring a smile to your face.
Laughing Buddha at a monastery in the Himalayas, Nepal.
However you're spending your day, take time to notice and appreciate the thoughtfulness and consideration of those close to you....and share the love!
Happy Valentine's Day!
All photographs © Tara Bradford.