Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

I'm one-half of an old married couple with two teenagers, so we've got pretty flexible ideas about what constitutes a good Valentine celebration. We agreed that cards and chocolate are kind of boring after all these years, but the romantic moments show up unexpectedly.
Today my 11-year-old daughter's fiddle group played at Sonogee, a local nursing home. It was once part of a row of grand mansions lining the shore, back in the days when the cream of Gilded Age society summered here and threw elaborate balls during the Bar Harbor Season. Most of the mansions burned in the great Fire of '47, and others were sold off when the income tax was introduced and the old ways were no longer practicable. Sonogee still has a couple of fancy neighbors to the northwest, but to the southeast, the remaining mansions have been absorbed into the College of the Atlantic and various hotels. The entrance hall is still rather posh, with a sweeping staircase and arched niches and marble floors. There is also a lovely dining room with elaborate coffered ceilings. The wings that have been built on to either side of the original building for the residents' rooms are more standard nursing home style; hospital-like and practical.
At any rate, the children played Irish jigs and ballads in the old dining room, under that gorgeous ceiling, with a sweeping panorama of Frenchman's Bay behind them and the residents gathered in front. Such a study in contrasts and the changes time brings to people and buildings and ways of life... We parents hovered just outside the grandly carved doors, trying to stay out of the way of people maneuvering their wheelchairs and walkers in to the hall.
Near the end of the performance, the fiddlers played a waltz, and my husband and I started to dance out there in the grand hallway with the industrial carpet. It was very silly, since we are ungainly and middle-aged and overweight, but it was also absolutely lovely. He doesn't love to dance as much as I do, and is even more self-conscious, so I can't think of a nicer present for him to give me than an unexpected waltz in a incongruous setting. As I said, after 23 years, you take the romance wherever it pops up.

P.S. The photos are from the Next Step Chocolate Festival we went to last Saturday. My husband plays trumpet in a Dixieland band, and they've been playing for this fundraiser for at least ten years. The kids and I never fail to come and show our support.


  1. what a wonderful surprise!!!
    we too are in your group--21 years of marriage, 3 kids, and lots of valentine's days behind us.
    Seems as we get older, just spending quality time together is what it's all about--the best gift ever.
    He stayed home from work with me and gardened with me during the afternoon. That brought memories back of when we gardened together more often....
    Glad you were able to dance--love it!!!

    1. Hi Robin - well gardening is certainly one way of getting flowers for Valentines Day! Sounds like a really nice day. And congratulations on 21 years together.