what is love?
Tags: Balzac quote, commercialism of Valentine's Day, cut-flower fungicide, Eric Fromm quote, floral trade, Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart, Flower Hill Farm, free market efficiency, G. K. Chesterton quote, giving gardens, Ice T quote, Lisa Simpson quote, Nietzsche quote, quotes about love, Ursula K. LeGuin quote, Valentine's Day 2010, Yeats quote
“If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.”
“Who, being loved, is poor?”
“Love is the poetry of the senses.”
~Honoré de Balzac
“Ah me! love can not be cured by herbs.”
“True love is a discipline in which each divines the secret self of the other and refuses to believe in the mere daily self.”
~William Butler Yeats
“Love doesn’t sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all of the time, made new.”
~Ursula K. LeGuin
“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”
“Passion makes the world go round. Love just makes it a safer place.”
“The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”
“Love is not consolation. It is light.”
Ten possible interpretations of the title question. Perhaps you agree with one of them as to what constitutes love.
I’m not ready to define it, myself, but I’m happy to celebrate V-day today with my new husband of a little over two months. I admit to having a long-standing prejudice against this holiday in which our culture narrowly redefines romantic love and its acceptable range of expressions, which all somehow involve spending money.
As Lisa Simpson put it in The Simpsons, “Romance is dead. It was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.”
We are both a little suspicious of the various industries who created the modern version of the holiday for their own ends, and thus our celebration is typically non-standard. However, this year F. violated the rule that we avoid falling for commercial ploys, buying me a dozen red roses. They are lovely enough that I forgave him and am almost able to forget, as I gaze at their lovely, tightly furled buds, the details of the lives of the South American agricultural workers who prepare most of our cut flowers for the floral trade here in the U.S.
Reading Amy Stewart’s Flower Confidential last year totally changed my perceptions of bouquets and my cut-flower purchasing pattern, and I had thought myself somewhat educated about the business end of blossoms, with an aunt who is a florist and a six-month stint working for a floral shop in college. But it turns out I knew almost nothing. (By the way, the book is a great read, highly recommended. Just don’t read it if you’d like to keep your flowery illusions.)
I won’t be putting my nose into the heart of these roses, which mostly have no scent anyway as they are bred for looks alone, nor touching them much at all once they’re in their vases, and I’ll be washing my hands immediately after any contact. The faded flowers won’t end up in my compost pile, either, as they have likely been dipped whole — blossom, stem, and leaves — in some noxious fungicide in order to increase their chances of passing the import inspection.
Terrible, isn’t it, how a beautiful flower ends up coated with poison to survive a moment’s inspection after its long-distance, fuel-guzzling flight, all to satisfy a strange notion of economical “efficiency”? And even more terrible still, that injustice should be done over and over to our fellow human beings supposedly to honor a day dedicated to love, but in reality to support a Free™ market which doesn’t recognize such crucial intangibles as love, honor, beauty, truth….
But I don’t want to rant on this day. Let’s spread some love instead.
I thoroughly enjoyed a recent post by Carol at Flower Hill Farm in which she discusses “Giving Gardens,” and I cannot think of a better way to show love, both tangible and intangible, to our fellow human beings in this time of great economic distress. If you haven’t read her lovely post yet, I’d encourage you to check it out and consider planting your own giving garden this season.
And no matter how you choose to celebrate this day (or if you choose not to), I hope that it is a great one for you and all those you love!