Considering the important "things’ | VailDaily.com
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Considering the important "things’

Alan Braunholtz

There are a lot of things in my life that I think are important, but few really are. My life progresses just fine without them. Sure, they’re useful and nice and I’m annoyed when I lose them. But within a few months I spare them barely a passing thought.

Losing the important “things” in my life haunts me forever. Old friends, family and dogs can still pop up unannounced in my head. Summoned by songs, similar smiles, a favorite view, an old photo loitering in a crowded kitchen drawer or summoned up by a meandering daydreaming brain – these ghosts of my mind fly straight to my core, happily (and sadly) bypassing all the protective emotional walls I’ve tried to acquire through the years. Funnily enough, these good “things” in life are never things, as in possessions or belongings.

I’m guessing this soppy sentimentality grows with age. Maybe that “been there done that” faded wisdom allows one to see a little clearer. All those exciting materialistic goals and dreams of one’s youth – the flash car, the Hollywood girlfriends – are seen as dreams (not part of the grit of real life) or after a few anticlimactic experiences as the hyped-up fluff they often are.

Hallmark Inc., florists and lingerie shops would have us show our appreciation by buying stuff. This is nice, probably expected and very easy to do. But why not surprise someone and show your affection by, well, actually showing it.

You know how you feel much better than a paid writer for a card company does. If you spend a few hours writing that down, you’ll surpass even the slickest card. Where love is concerned, it is your thoughts that count.

I don’t have a TV, so I’m following the bachelorette versus Ryan TV-dinner/romance/game drama second or third hand. This seems from my uninformed position to be the opposite of what love is really about. Deeply held private affections, where foibles and faults maddeningly endear: a treasured beauty mark, lopsided grin and inability to find the car keys. I’m sure all our mothers love us for our faults as much as anything else. Instant love with undying declarations of improvised affection when the cameras, agents and ratings are watching fits perfectly with the Hallmark commercialization of “love.”

I love chocolate, so I like Valentines Day. It’s also a strong reminder not to take loved ones for granted. I have a bad tendency to neglect those who I love and I know love me. I assume my love is obvious and direct my energies toward people at work, casual acquaintances, etc., places where I feel I need to make an impression.

Our dogs tell me daily how dumb this is. Love is never too obvious and daily displays of affection are brilliant. Every time I arrive at the door, they bounce at the window burbling with delight, two uncontainable furry packages of joy. Numu gets so excited her wags overcome her tail, quickly encompassing her whole body and she oscillates like a snake. Meanwhile Calvin pogos around, off all four feet like an energized lamb. If I’m too slow with the house key, he’ll get higher and higher until he either knocks the window blind off and-or crash lands onto a wobbling Numu. Coming home is always amusing, happy and wonderful.

You’d think that after several thousand days of our leaving and returning they’d get used to it. May be, but they haven’t taken our return for granted. We rock their world and Calvin and Numu let us know it. Heck, even waking up every day is a cause for celebration as they sky dive onto the bed.

As I roll on the floor being smothered in hairy licks and kisses, I vow to try and be as enthusiastically uninhibited with my

expressions of affection to the ones I love.

Unfortunately I’m way too self-conscious, not as soft, and I don’t have a tail. I guess awkward notes, a surprise hug here and there, and the occasional discreet kiss will have to do. Being English and culturally not given to crude displays of public affection, I have enrolled in a seven-step program of touchy-feelyness. Who knows, maybe I’ll even manage to whisper an “I love you” now and again.

No $8 roses this year, though. That is expensive to me but may cost an Ecuadorian woman significantly more. Ecuador imports 500 million roses to the United States each year and is the world’s fourth-largest producer, a result of investors discovering the perfect growing conditions. The Cayambe valley boasts 12 hours of sunshine, water from the Andes and volcanic soil.

The industry pays well by Ecuador’s standards, but lax safety precautions and heavy use of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides may be creating problems. The workers are seeing an increase in serious health problems (including birth defects).

Consumer action in Europe created a green label that guarantees basic environmental and labor standards.

Rose importers in the United States deny there is a problem and don’t see the need for “green” certification.

Could be a good excuse for when you forget.

Alan Brauholtz of Vail writes a weekly column for the Daily.


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