A Romantic Story For Valentine’s Day

The Owl And The Pussy Cat (In French)

Written by Edward Lear and translated by Francis Steegmuller

In 1975 my great-aunt, Wylly Folk St John sent me this book in a birthday gift box for my fifteenth birthday. She always sent the best presents, and packages from her were special even when I was uncertain as to why she gave me certain things.

I collected owls or owl themed items when I was growing up and since I did not speak French, this may have been what led her to choose The Owl and the Pussycat translated into French as a gift for me, or perhaps she imagined I might consider taking French in high school. Having a terrible facility for foreign language, I went with Spanish which was said to be easier than French and saved this book  for sentimental reasons even though I could not read it.

When I moved to Cornwall I had loads of books that had to find a new home. This one made the cut because Aunt Wylly had given it to me and it found a home on a bookshelf that my husband John built for me after we married. I displayed it in a way that made the cover visible and it sat there looking pretty next to a little owl that had been a gift from her as well.

A few weeks ago, just before our fifth wedding anniversary, I looked up from my desk and saw it on the shelf and it occurred to me that while I still did not speak enough French to read it, my British born husband did.

John seemed a bit surprised when I brought it in as we were getting ready for bed and asked him to read it to me. I think his exact response was,  “Now ?”

Even though the poem was not new to me it sounded pretty sweet to hear him read it in French, 39 years after opening it on my birthday.

I know most would argue that it was just a bit of coincidence, but I can’t help but wonder what my aunt would think about our love story and how the romantic in me never gave up on finding lasting love.

The Owl And The Pussy Cat (In French)

Today is the sixth anniversary of our meeting face to face having met almost “by accident” online six weeks earlier. I flew to Cornwall in 2008 on Valentine’s Day and when my visit was over two weeks later, we both knew our future was set.

Despite an 18 year age difference that created loads of initial objections from my family and friends, I think we both would agree that the ocean between us, a five-hour time difference, and the limitations imposed on the amount of time immigration would allow me to stay were some of the bigger issues in our early relationship.

Being wooed from across the sea was full of surprises and I can still remember when John quoted these lyrics not long after I had returned to the US from my two-week long Valentine’s Day visit.

How could I not fall madly and deeply in love with a man who said such reassuringly sweet words.

At 17 he falls in love quite madly
with eyes of azure blue,
At 24 he gets it rather badly
with eyes of a different hue.
At 36 you’ll find him flirting sadly
with two or three or more;
When he fancies he is past love,
It is then he meets his last love,
And he loves her as he’s never loved before.

~ Peter Dawson

Please feel free to share your own stories  in a comment or links to a blog post you have a special one for today.

I have told our story in different places on my blog, but I will include a few links for those who might be here for the first time. The highlighted words above will take you to other earlier posts if you wish to know more.

The Gift You Keep

Will You Stay With Me Will You Be My Love

Remembering The Day We Met – Valentine’s Day 2008

Buttercup Madness and Mid – May Diversions

Buttercup Madness & Mid-May Diversions

It’s one of my favorite times of the year in Cornwall when the buttercups go mad popping up everywhere. The weather has been iffy for the last few weeks and I’ve been feeling slightly desperate to see a color other than grey. Yesterday delivered big time so John and I went out for a walk in the afternoon after I finished with work.  I was getting ready to photograph him sitting in the buttercups when he disappeared!

You can barely see him in the shot above.

When I looked up to see where he’d gone, I found him flat on his back soaking up the sun. A few weeks ago the buttercups were just beginning to show up, and I wrote a post with links explaining why this meadow is so special to us. You can follow the link if you’re new to GOTJ and interested in learning more.

Ahhh … there he is!

John snapped this one of me while I was trying to get a macro shot.

We posed for a timed shot with the buttercup field behind us before moving on for a walk through the woods.

From this angle you can see the buttercup field through the trees. This area is stunning all year round and John and I often talk about how lucky we are to have this walking distance from our home.

This tree with its fresh new leaves was more beautiful than my camera could capture and too large to get more than a bit of it in the shot.

Walking on a bit, I saw a path I had not explored and was off down the hill to see the water I could hear below.

Again, my little Canon can’t begin to communicate how beautiful this space is or how the water rushing over the rocks in places sounds like people murmuring together, carrying on a conversation I can’t make out.

The banks and surrounding area have these gorgeous bluebells scattered all around.

After hearing John calling out to me saying he was going on, I hurried up the hill to walk the rest of the way with him.

We walked on reaching the village by way of the main road after we left the wood and we saw a common sight, where riders on horseback share the road with cars. That’s our village church in the background.

Have you got a favorite place you go to clear your head or find your balance after a tough day? Nature always does it for me.

Feeding The Spirit

Sometimes getting outside is just what a body needs. Yesterday delivered with a mostly sunny Monday and John and I took some time off to smell the roses … okay, there weren’t really any roses, but the flowers are beginning to pop here and it felt like a big hug from the universe to do nothing but what we wanted on such a gorgeous day.

I took this photo about a week ago thinking then how much it looked as it was saying, “C’mere you and let me give you a hug” which makes it perfect for this post as it’s what I’d like to do to say thank you for all the kind comments on the “Am I Blue …” post from Sunday. I heard from folks through Facebook and email as well and I want to be sure you know how much I appreciated your messages.

While winter appears to have left us, there are still reminders everywhere. Yesterday was the first time it’s felt seriously springlike this year with a mostly blue sky day and a warmth that allowed me to leave my coat behind.

Of course, I had to take a few photographs to share. The new shoots on this tree were so soft they reminded me of feel of a young boy’s head after a summer buzz cut when his hair even when cut super short, still has the softness his baby years.

This one was a surprise! As soon as I saw this butterfly, I thought that’s it, spring must really be here or this beauty would not be. I managed to snap only one slightly soft image before it flew off leaving me still marveling at how early it was to see it. (If any one knows what kind it is, I’d love for you to share it in a comment)

This tulip was inside one of the biomes at Eden Project which was our first stop of the day and I had to do some contortions to get it without climbing into the flower bed.

This yellow lovely was growing outside the biome and John said that it’s a Kingcup and member of the buttercup family, a flower I fell in love with for its beauty and its significance in our early relationship.

Things got steamy inside the rainforest biome making my lens go fuzzy faster than I could snap the shutter creating the moody shot above.

The purple pops in this image of this Dwarf Iris.

This Horsetail plant is one of my favorites at Eden Project and I went in close this time to photograph it at the beginning of the plant that looks and feels like a horse’s tail.

We had lost a some of light by the time I took this one, but it was back a bit later in time for a walk through the gardens at Lanhydrock.

While there was a good bit of green at Lanhyrock, (it’s always green in Cornwall) I had hoped to see some of the flowers that add to Lanhyrock’s charm. It was too early see more than a few blooming trees so after a quick look around and a sunny rest stop, we headed for home.

The face of a patient man waiting for a wife who has to always spend ” just a minute ” in the resale bookstore at Lanhydrock where sometimes there’s a treasure hiding in plain sight.

The Lanhydrock Gatehouse

Why My Camera Is Not Good For My Health

I probably won’t need to explain the title of this post once you see the photos from yesterday taken during what was supposed to be a brisk walk for my health. With friends my age having knee surgeries and long recoveries, I’ve been forced to pay attention to my own aches and pains instead of trying to medicate (acetaminophen) them away and denial is no longer a practical solution either.

Since I can no longer disregard my aging, overused, knees, and hips, walking has taken the place of running these days. Speed seems to be my biggest issue as I can’t seem to move fast enough to affect my cardiovascular system.

I’ve not really slowed down that much in shifting from running to walking as I was never the fastest runner in any race, but walking makes it easier to see my surroundings which makes me want to pause for a photo more often than is good for me. A brisk walk becomes a stroll and before you know it, all I have is a photo essay of my walk and a need for larger trousers.

I thought someone should get something out of it my ” exercise program ” so I’m sharing a few photos of my distractions from yesterday.

A walk though these woods in any season has the feel of a cathedral and I am always in awe of the changing light.

A few steps farther along the same path on the way to the buttercup field. Notice how the path forks just up ahead.

No need to explain these lovelies.

The photo above is the area that John and I refer to fondly as the buttercup field. I know it looks pretty ordinary now, but it will be a stunning field of gold by May.

This is just a peek over a hedge at the trees below waiting to shake off the last bits of their winter look.

I never seem to capture how lovely these stone steps really look. I work with angle and exposure over and over, but I am never satisfied and wish I could walk you to this place to show you what I mean.

I make my way back to the village green where the daffodils are in full bloom and cross down to the churchyard to see what kind of color I can find there.

Yellow flowers fill the churchyard for now, but soon they’ll be competing for a bit of grassy space with the many-colored primroses that come every spring. If you look above the church door in the top left of the photo, you can see a sundial near the arch.

This sundial may seem old with a date of 1780, but there are other dates around the churchyard and inside the church that are actually much older.

I’ve taken this shot before as some of you may remember from older posts. It requires getting into a prone position to get the right angle and after all my exertion from my big ” workout ” I was tempted to have a little snooze in the sun. I did consider that finding me lying prone in the churchyard surrounded by flowers might be a bit disconcerting for someone passing by.

My friend Patrice is the latest in my Atlanta circle requiring knee surgery and if you’d think a good thought for her recovery, I’m sure she’d be grateful. Ironically she was demonstrating the proper way to run to a patient of hers when her knee went. Patrice and I ran the Marine Corps Marathon together in Washington D.C. in 2007. Given our aging joints, I have a strong feeling that may be the last big run for both of us.

Almost Time To Go

It can’t really be possible that it’s almost time for her to go … didn’t we just pick her up at the airport the other day? I still have a million things I want to show her and things I want to say. I know I’ll see her in July when I go back to Georgia for a few weeks, but I want to teach her how to make pasties while she’s here and have time for her to teach me how to knit again while sitting side by side in my studio space. I want to see her feeding the wild ponies too many sugar cubes on Bodmin Moor and take her picture on Jubilee Rock and Helland Bridge. I want to have enough time to ride bikes along the Camel Trail and walk with her through the buttercup field and show her how magical the bluebells look lining the hills of Lavethan Wood. I just want more time

Remembering The Day We Met – Valentine’s Day 2008

I took this picture last February when John and I were in Paris on our honeymoon and I’ve been saving it for just the right time. Today is the third Valentine’s Day we will spend together and the anniversary of the first time we met face to face.

Yesterday evening, John called out to me from his study and I went in to find him rereading a series of short emails that passed back and forth between us on February 13, 2008. We were emailing each other right until they closed the airplane door, documenting our thoughts and excitement as I was getting on the plane to fly over to meet him for the first time. He’s that kind of man, tender, romantic, and permanently etched on my heart. I am grateful everyday for him and I love how he remembers the details of our romance. Well loved, every day is what I am, but on Valentine’s Day it is especially nice to remember how we began.

If you don’t know our story yet and you’d like to know more, you can read about our first meeting below. After I take him a little breakfast in bed, we’re going back to Bedruthan Steps to recreate that first walk. We didn’t manage a photo the first time, but we took one a year ago and if you come back later you will be able to see a photograph from today’s walk posted underneath the one from last year at the bottom of the page.

Will You Stay With Me, Will You Be My Love

February 14, 2009

Today is the anniversary of the day I first stepped off a plane in England and into John’s arms. We’d spent the previous six weeks first emailing and later talking on Skype so we’d seen each other online for quite some time, but had never touched. Very quickly, I developed a huge crush on the darling Englishman who is now my husband. That we met for the first time in person on Valentine’s Day was more because it suited my work and travel arrangements than by romantic design. Because I had so many frequent flyer miles and a keen interest in seeing John in his own space, I suggested the idea that I come to him. I came with an open mind and a tender heart, but no expectations beyond the idea of getting to know him as only one can when actually in the same physical space.

As I write this, I have just been reminded by John that one year ago today, exactly 30 minutes from now, my plane touched down in a tiny airport in Newquay.  It is a vivid memory for us both and it’s funny now to look back and remember the thoughts and feelings I was having as I walked down the steps of the commuter flight across the tarmac and into his warm embrace that morning.

Any of you who’ve been reading my old blog at (giftsofthejourney.com) for long are aware of how this first meeting progressed from friendship and mutual attraction to the sweet ceremony we went through not quite two weeks ago. It seems appropriate to share our buttercup story and why these tiny yellow flowers have such meaning for me now.

When I arrived on that chilly day February 14, John asked me if I felt up to a little walk along the ocean on the coast path at a place called Bedruthan Steps. It was on the way back to the tiny village where he made his home and he was exited to show me a bit of the Cornish coast that he’d been telling me about for weeks. Despite having been too excited to sleep on the plane, I was definitely interested in seeing any of the places I had heard him refer to during the hours of talks we’d had using Skype.

We gradually worked our way back to the village and after putting on wellies we took a walk though a beautiful wood that opened into what I now refer to as the buttercup field. Of course, in February there were no buttercups, but I was intrigued as John described how by May the field would be covered in gold as the buttercups competed  with the constant green of the grassy space. As he told me this I thought how lovely that would be, but it was only after having spent the better part of two weeks with him that I knew with absolute certainty that I needed to come back to this field and stand in the middle of the buttercups that he said would come with the month of May.

Jumping ahead here and skipping over the activities that happened in order to bring me back, I arrived  back in England on May 13th. As I got closer to my travel date, I kept asking John, “ Have the buttercups bloomed yet? “ I was so worried that I would miss them.

Below are some of the images from the day I arrived in May last year. Few things in life are just as we imagine they will be, but this day was special and it was better than I could have imagined.  When I first saw the field of gold, I could almost hear Eva Cassidy’s voice singing in my head providing a romantic soundtrack to accompany the images that filled my eyes.  The song I heard was Fields Of Gold and I now think of this as our song. Take a minute and listen to it here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3YVil3Ajjs

I love the part of the song where she sings, ” Will you stay with me, will you be my love…”  These words were embroidered on a special linen tablecloth by my new friend Tina to use on our table for our wedding reception. The flowers you see are the two buttercups I picked that day in May. I tucked them in a pocket on the side of my pants and played in the buttercup field with them where they stayed until we returned  home. I forgot they were there and when I noticed them again, I took them out and pressed them in a book. They dried twined together having fallen into the position that you see in the picture. I took a photograph of them and Tina created a sketch from it and the tablecloth design is a now a lasting memory of the day I came back to John and saw the buttercups for the first time.

I’m off now to climb Bedruthan Steps with John as we go back to the place we walked one year ago today. Today we’ll celebrate old memories and look forward to making new ones…and soon we’ll be walking in fields of gold again.

Bedruthan Steps – February 14, 2009

Bedruthan Steps – February 14, 2010


Three Weeks Ago Today…

Three weeks ago today John and I were doing this….

dscf7069b

It began to snow just as our reception was coming to a close and when John and I went on a walk later that night things were being to look a bit like this…   

Is it  just me or does anyone else see a shape in the photograph below?

img_5249

 What began as a few flakes became this by morning. I grabbed my camera and headed out early for a quick walk and a few photographs before the rest of house was up and out. Remember, we had wedding guests who’d slept over as the roads had not been drivable the evening before. I was excited and worried about all the snow since we had a honeymoon flight to Paris scheduled for that day. Not wanting to miss the early morning light and the fresh snow I drank a quick cup of coffee, pulled on my wellies and headed out.

img_52822

img_5296

img_53891

img_5397

 

The Buttercup Field In Winter

The Buttercup Field In Winter

img_5432

img_5468

img_5463

img_54611

img_5497

Our Parish Church

As I passed by the parish church again on my way back home, I saw that the roads were still icy and cars were not yet able drive out of our village due to the amount of hills where we live.  When I arrived home, John said that his younger daughter had decided to try to walk out of the village and up to a motor way where she could arrange for a cab to meet her and her 4 year old daughter. Her plan was to try make it to a train station and on to the flight they had scheduled to return to their home. John and I had tickets to fly out of Bristol to Paris later that day for our honeymoon so we knew if we were going to make it, we would need to hike out as well. I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you more of our post wedding adventures, but for now…here’s a little preview.

snow-days