In the days after Valentine’s I feel something soft about the morning. I can see it in the pastel sky, hear it in the slow wash of tires on the wet street below. Sunday. Two crows barking. A wave of consumer propulsion towards all things pink, red and heart-shaped began last week and crested on Thursday and Friday when even the grocery store designated one person to wrap the flowers held by a long line of men. Some of them still in reflector suits from road work, some in steel toe or galoshes, others bearded and toqued or in natty winter coats, all of them jovial, joking amongst themselves, glowing. They carried their bouquets gently in that line, respectfully. It was a wonder, all that masculine flower action in East End Hamilton. I bought a vase full of brilliant yellow roses and spikes of eucalyptus, in celebration of the line of smiling men, in celebration of all of us. Picket line teachers, impatient Ford 150 drivers, control freak Tim Horton’s managers and people who throw emotion around like bullets from an AK47: all of us. And me too, tucked away in my echo chamber studio, deliberately making mistake after mistake and learning from every one of them. Some of the mistakes I’m making are quite stunningly beautiful, which is a lesson in itself. My world expands and not all is comfortable; I celebrate the gifts of that. Has our idea of love shifted I wonder. From the hard angles of claiming and owning and obedience to something softer and simpler: you are beautiful and valuable, to me. You. In the midst of all this impossibility and stress and pressure, the mess and the fear and the rage, I can stop and hold a long moment for this deep deep truth. I can put it in these flowers I bought and stood in line with to have wrapped, for you. I think of all the loves of my life so far – HA! in some ways much like my time in the studio now. Some not at all comfortable, all insistent that I learn and stretch beyond what I can imagine. All gifts – to feel my my heart open wide, and also to feel it close again, calloused so I can heal. Through all of this it grows and beats and connects with living breathing beings; I am okay, I always have been, and will always be. The yellow roses light up my living room. I’ll use the vase to put others in when I need to hold a long deep moment and remind myself of the long, enduring song of Love. My Love for Us. All of us. Which is the same huge, eternal, glorious, simple thing as my Love from myself to me.