I think I posted a similar image last year, but I find it coincidental that my latest amaryllis - one I bought on sale after the holidays last year - decided to bloom not in December but just now, in time for Valentine's Day.
I have always loved Valentine's Day for the ruby rouge blast it supplies, usually in the middle of a snowy white winter...just long enough after Christmas and New Year's, just soon enough before the emerald greens of St. Patrick's Day, of spring and the pastels of Easter. This year, while we don't have the blanket of snow that is so typical of this season, the landscape is still bleak, leafless and lifeless, so the contrast to the vermilions and crimsons of Valentine's Day still remains strong.
It seems a bit incongruous, though, that on this bright and cheerful Valentine's Day, so many are still in shock and reeling from the sad news of the sudden death of singer Whitney Houston just a few days ago in California. I have written occasionally here of my affection for "great girl singers" and it is very sad that the last time I wrote of a very fine songstress here, it was to note the passing of one of the last of the great women singers of the mid-20th century, the legendary Lena Horne. How ironic, then, that Miss Horne was, as it turned out, Whitney Houston's singing idol. It is not surprising when one considers how alike they were - stunningly gorgeous women, phenomenal singers, grand personas of their respective eras.
It is lamentable, though, that unlike Miss Horne, who lived on into her 90s, Whitney left us much too soon at 48 - barely more than half Lena's age - with so many songs left unsung, depriving us of any chance of seeing her real redemption, and perhaps a full recovery from her demons, and many more years to enjoy her undeniable talent. Surely, she was not at her best in recent years, and her tribulations, unfortunately, were very public ones, but regardless of her more recent challenges, she leaves us with her legacy of remarkably beautiful, stirring and powerful vocals that will stand as a lasting testament to her great gift: one of the most glorious voices of our time.
Whitney Houston truly was one of a kind, a rare and unearthly talent, and whatever else one might say or think about her, her life and how she lived, or how she died, that simple fact is utterly without question.
For Whitney, I offer a Valentine's Day prayer that she knew, if nothing else, that she was greatly loved and will remain so by millions of people for many, many years to come.