By Barb Hauge
"Will you be my Valentine? Really, truly always mine? For today and yet tomorrow? Sure I'm broke but I can borrow."
Saint Valentine, the priest and physician who started it all, was martyred under Claudius the Goth. In happier times, Saint Valentine initiated the delightful custom of sending Valentines or love notes on his feast day, Feb. 14.
Our community celebrates with a Sweetheart Dinner, cooked and served by the Senior Class and their parents They decorate with hearts, flowers and soft candlelight. The main entree is steak or prime rib furnished by local ranchers and cooked to perfection.
Waiting on the diners are students dressed formally with a spotless white serviette over the arm. One year a Scottish foreign student wore his full Clan regalia including kilts. We all dress appropriately for this romantic dinner. Some say the secret of marital happiness is to marry someone who can stand you (that you can stand!)
'Tis a loving thing we do when we give food and, from ancient times, stewards of the land have given much; often a large percentage of their harvest to hungry people as well as wildlife. Sadly for farmers/peons/peasants, the largest percentage always went to overlords.
After World War II, I remember our community donating truckloads of wheat to starving people in war-ravaged Europe.
Although America broke with the feudal farming system instituted by overlords of the Old World, we still pay a huge tribute to food shippers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and bankers. All farmers and ranchers have endured the humiliation of borrowing from the banker so they can produce food for yet another year and know "the system" is pretty much rigged against them.
One young son asked his father, "Why do we have to get money from the bank? Why doesn't our money come from the food we grow?"
Baxter Black's wonderful poem is about stewards of the land:
"We are of the land. The land that everybody is tryin' to save. We are of the Earth. of the Earth from the glimmer to the grave. We're the plankton on the ocean, we're the grass upon the plain. We're the lichen in the tundra, we're the clevis in the chain. You will find us on the outskirts coaxing bounty from the ground with our watchful eyes cast skyward, well beyond the lights of town. Dust to dust we are committed to the Earth in which we stand. We are farmers by our birthright; we're stewards of the land.
"There are those who sit in towers who pretend to know what's best. They pontificate and dabble. They bray loudly. They protest that a peasant can't be trusted with the land to which he's bred and they rail with all the courage of a person whose well-fed. We have labored through the Ages for these power-hungry kings. We have fueled the wars of nations with their arrows and their slings. We have fed the teeming masses with our fish and loaves of bread so the poor would sit and listen to the words the prophet said.
"Mother Earth can be forgiven when in ignorance we err. But she can die of good intentions. She needs someone who will care. Not with platitudes of poets touting blood and sweat and toil but the daily care of someone with his hand upon the soil. Through the bullets become ballots and the rulers change their name they will still march on their bellies so our job remains the same. For bureaucrats and battleships, the Einsteins and the choirs would spend their life behind the plow if no one fed their fires."
The fires of love need feeding too. Send a Valentine!