An Early Valentine’s Day (Even Though This Post Is Late)

Valentine’s Day was a bit of a bust around here.
We were on the road,
tired, cranky, heading home.
Emotional time with my mom for me,
head-warping time with the tax accountant for him.
So we had a tough ride home.
Sometimes the steam collects,
and instead of venting it in small quantities,
over time, it comes out like a TNT explosion,
sending shrapnel bouncing around the place.
As painful as that feels when it happens,
the grace in it is this:
we can get back to center in short order.
In earlier years, that part of the process could take days,
sometimes weeks. This time, we were both able to say, “I’m sorry. That was insensitive of me. I know this weekend has been hard for you.”
So I spent a little time today, while Lilly was napping (finally!), looking at photos from a truly lovely day earlier this month.
It was a good reminder that in and around the tough stuff,
we manage to make memories that are life-giving and hope-filled.
 I started that day with Silent Saturday,
always a healthy, hopeful thing for me to do.
Three hours of centering prayer and reflection,
sitting, walking, thinking, praying.
We were in a different place this month,
crowded out by a large retreat gathering.
Still oak trees of glory,
still room by the creek.
 It was a good time, though I was more distracted than usual.
Distraction is the name of the game some days.
Later that day, I picked up my husband and we drove to the tiny town just south of us, parking on the bluffs
overlooking Summerland Beach.
The same place where I sat by myself  
The view from up there was just as spectacular.
It was later in the day this time, and quite a bit warmer, so we opted to take a long walk on the beach.
 The walkway down to the sand was lined with bright yellow wildflowers, the angle of the light exactly right.
 If you’ve followed my blog at all,
you’ve seen lots of pictures of the bluffs along this stretch of coastline. Rosy gold to rich coral in color, beautifully eroded with striations, even large cave-like openings,
they epitomize central coast natural architecture.
 Single shorebirds showed up at various points along our venture – this curlew, a lone pelican on the water, a cormorant sticking to the rocks even when pummeled by the waves.
The rock formations – above us to the north and sprinkled throughout the water to the south (yes, our beaches face south on this peninsula) – 
are wonder-filled and beautiful.


 As we walked back, the horseman we had seen from the bluffs came galloping by us, heading home;
a teenaged boy carried driftwood back to his friends,
busy constructing something wondrous.
 The sun was not yet down, so we climbed into the car and drove a little further south, heading to a favorite restaurant, recently under new ownership, a place where you can eat outdoors, picnic tables and thatched umbrellas spread across a lovely lawn while the kids play in a nearby designer sandbox.
And we relished those burgers, oh yes, we did,
as the sun slowly sank into the sea.
 And that very night, my husband built the fire that inspired 
Who says Valentine’s Day needs to be on the 14th anyhow?
I will join this one with L.L., Laura, Jennifer and Ann. It was a lovely day, a beautiful place and a great memory, too.

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  1. I really, really like where this day ended up. And where it winded around from too. Some days are all twisty and windy like that. But you landed soft. That’s so nice.

    I never did thank you for the links you sent me on the grief work, Diana. Thank you for that. Some things stick harder than others.

  2. I’d almost forgotten the fire at the beginning of this post once I got lost in the wonder and the beauty and the sun fire and the melting. I remember in the very beginning how we seldom argued or disagreed. Seemed like that came more with children–and then a challenging child. But I love how love, real love, can go with the flow. And it can move past the rocks and melt all over again.

    And those horses. I’ve always dreamed of riding on the beach. Closest I’ve come is a bluff above the beach in Maine.

  3. Diana,

    I found you via your comments on the singles thread at (in)courage.
    You asked if women your age were welcome in the younger forums… YES!

    Personally, I blog at SingleSolitaryThings… it started out a blog about dating after age 30 and I just passed 40 – so it’s still a progress! You are welcome to chime in with your wisdom any time!

  4. Diana,
    These photos, the story you share, the fire all acrackle at the end….this is what redemption and grace look like.

    thank you. I needed to see that.

  5. Diana, I grew up in a family where the TNT was common — a family friend once referred to us as “the yelling family.” You’d have thought we were NY Italians, though we were no such thing. You’ve seen me. You know.

    But that was it. Boom. It was done. Everybody knew where everybody stood, and in the end, everybody was still standing, and loving. We just did it loud.

    I’ve adjusted, marrying into a traditional Scandinavian clan. I learned to pipe down. But there are days with my boys where a quick burst is what gets their attention, and then we move on.

    The key, I think, no matter which way it goes is the grace that you show us here in this interaction. Whether it comes after the explosion or in the midst of the quiet. It’s keeping short accounts. (My dad, you know, was a CPA.)

    Gorgeous photos, my friend. I could sit and look at them all day.

  6. Beautiful photos!

    I was encouraged to learn that over time you and your husband can have an “explosion” and get back to normal rather quickly. It is normal to have pent up emotions that need to be released, but not everyone has a safe place to vent.

    I also read your last post where you say you poured out your heart and had fewer visitors and fewer comments. Don’t let that discourage you (though I know it can be discouraging from personal experience). Somewhere, someone will find your words to be their lifeline. God bless as you take your break from the blog for awhile. May you come back renewed and refreshed.

  7. I am so happy that your day ended fireside. I’m still thinking about your post a week or two ago, with our husband coming to stoke the fire.

    Your photos are fantastic. I love the reflection of the sun on water.

  8. Ummmm….

    YOUR husband. Not OUR husband.

    I’m going to start rumors with comments like that! LOL!

    (Blushes… Leaves comment-box quietly….)


  9. Oh, thanks for coming by here, friends! Always so glad to see each one of you.

    (And Jennifer, I’ll never tell anyone about that slip, sister-wife. :>)

    Lyla – ARE YOU KIDDING ME? How is it possible for a yelling family to produce you – the epitome of quiet, steady, calm presence. Wow. I grew up where folks didn’t know how to do anger, period. My dad withdrew – for days, sometimes. My mom had meltdowns, usually connected pretty tightly to my dad’s withdrawal. I tend to stay calm or sigh a lot. My husband grew up in a home where bickering was the usual – no screaming, but sort of pecking at each other, and we have followed that pattern a little more, I think. But occasionally – I get to the end of it, usually when I’m exhausted emotionally – and surprise both of us with the vehemence of my response. He gets there more quickly, but when I do – we both notice it a heckuva lot. Sigh. I am grateful that it isn’t often and that it is usually quickly resolved. We both pretty much know when the buttons have been pushed and why. You’ve got it just right – keep short accounts. (And my husband’s dad was a CPA, too.)