Spicy Tea Cake with Mini Mulled Pears For a Valentine's Day That Wasn't
Valentine’s Day this year was wonderfully ordinary. Nothing special or exciting was planned. There was no spectacular proclamation of undying love, no flowers and no chocolate. There was nothing to mark the day, save for one small, admittedly heart shaped, tea cake. But that’s all that was needed. Nothing momentously romantic, just a good, simple cake.
I have never been much of a fan of Valentine’s Day. Not because I think there is anything wrong with letting people know you love them, but I don’t think one needs to wait for one specified day in the year to do so, or give it that much importance. I remember there was a time, very, very long ago now (I might have been about 9) when I received the sweetest, handmade Valentine’s Day card from a secret admirer at school. I remember being a little embarrassed but enormously happy at receiving such a thoughtful token of amore. Most of the kids in my class received cards and small gifts from someone or another, but there was one girl who didn’t receive anything at all. I still remember her sad little face and it took away much of the pleasure I had in my own card. I’m sure that’s the day I decided Valentine’s Day was a load of rubbish and firmly decided I’d not take any part in it if there were people who would be left out and feel unloved as a result.
I realise I was only very young when this occurred, and that it might not mean that much in the big scheme of things, and that it’s only meant to be a bit of fun, but much of the sentiment has remained with me to this day. I prefer to shower love and affection on those I love daily. Or organise a little thoughtful surprise that I know Sandy will love, on a whim, because I can and desire to, and not because I feel I have to. Thankfully, Sandy is of the same opinion, to such a degree in fact, that in the four years we have been together, we’ve not once celebrated Valentine’s Day. People will ask excitedly about what our plans are, or if Sandy bought me anything special, and then look at me like an I’m an alien when I shrug and tell them that we never really do anything. But I don’t mind. I like avoiding the hype and the restaurants on Valentine’s Day. Instead of the usual kerfuffle, I prefer to spend it at home, quietly enjoying the day with the people I love most in the world: my family.
This year, we were blessed with a splendid Melbourne day. There was just the right amount of grey in the sky, yet with enough warmth in the air to make strolling outdoors pleasant. We drove to a lovely little garden near our home and spent the afternoon exploring its paths and plants. Ävälon ran ahead of us, excited by the colourful flowers bursting through the undergrowth, the moss, the dappled sunlight on the grass and the various bird sounds from above. The highlight of the afternoon was the discovery of a perfectly sized natural cubby, formed by the branches of a very old species of pine. It was just the right size for Ävälon to crawl into and play about. I was watching her as she became totally mesmerised by her little home, babbling excitedly as she pointed out this branch and then that, when I spotted the most darling little pinecone! I think I might have actually exclaimed with glee. I was so thrilled with the find that I thought I’d look for more. Happily I found another two. This started a bona-fide treasure hunt and before long we were hunting out bits of interesting looking bark, moss, fallen leaves and lichen covered branches. We even found a handful of acorns just fallen from the trees. It was, quite by accident, the perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day. By the time we were ready to leave we’d all worked up a healthy appetite. So in the car we jumped and headed home to wolf down some cake and enjoy a much needed cup of tea.
I hope your day, whatever it entailed, was filled with love, laughter and some good food.
Love and light!