Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Magic of Horse Valentines

In my grade-school days, and until I was fifteen, I had a shy streak a mile wide. There were a few exceptions to this rule -- when I was being a tomboy and playing sports with the boys. Or, if I was fascinated with a subject in school (often), I'd forget to be shy and come out of myself for a bit. The other exception, if my Aries temper was triggered by bullies (not often).
So, you may wonder at this point, what the heck does that have to do with 'the magic of horse valentines'? In third grade (1958), I had this incredibly marvelous teacher who noticed how much I loved horses. Okay, it was probably all the doodling I did of horses on my papers, the books I chose to read and however I could include horses into my assignments. She brought my love of horses to the attention of the other kids. And guess what! The magic happened.
Through fifth grade I received horse valentines. From the most cheesy -- Whoa! Will you be my valentine? -- to the elaborate and expensive, a Hallmark Rocking Horse complete with red yarn that you 'sewed' around him. There were palominos and painted ponies with red-cheeked cowgirls -- Yippee! Be my valentine. Eager cowboys covered in freckles astride their stick ponies were stuffed into my box (oops, freudian slip...too many sexy cowboy covers). Their cowboy hats too big, with rope in hand, they tossed the loop around 'If I rope you, partner, will you be my valentine?'
Being in love with valentines already -- it was love at first sight I tell you! My heart went pitty-pat euphoric at the very sight of red and pink lacy hearts. Hummm...let me think, was my passion to read and write romances already showing at that tender age?
Do ya think?
My dad helped me make my first valentine's day box out of the requisite shoe box with red and white tissue paper, of course. Later we graduated to red foil and fancier hearts. One year he wrapped the shoe box entirely in aluminum foil, then we placed on pink, white and red heart doilies. Yep, it was an original. And I loved it.
And oh, in those childhood years, did I ever treasure each and every horse valentine. Did I ever cherish that one magical day of candy hearts, of putting my valentines into every classmate's fancifully decorated red, white and pink box -- I swear I felt like the good fairy tripping about, despite not having Tinkerbelle's fragile wings or Glinda's wand, that ever-beautiful good witch of Oz.

And no, the magic wasn't because I received my precious horse valentines, but because it meant the kids and their parents cared enough to give them to me. Shy little, mostly invisible me, who never did get the 'hang' of how to fit into grade school society.
Caring and kindness, yep, that was the real magic of my horse valentines.
Valentines are offered as true gifts of the heart to those we love. Just as my romance novels are gifts of love written from my heart. Often horses star in my stories, racing against the wind, competing in equine sports game I create for their world. As dressage is a sport derived from training horses for war, the Braverth in All Shades of Blue Paradise is an ancient battle-sport for horses.
Yes, horses forever live in my heart, how could I not include them?
The question: How have valentines magically made a difference in your life, in your writing?
With Valentine's day just around the corner...yes, romance lovers all, the love scene entries for the American Title IV are just around the corner. Two finalists remain, and this will be your chance to decide on your heart-tingly favorite.
And! On February 12, Tuesday, Jenny Gardiner, author of Sleeping With Ward Cleaver and last year's winner of the American Title III, will be our guest blogger on Title Magic. I'm feeling tingly with anticipation. Jenny is warm and witty and wonderfully dynamic. Plus just downright inspiring.


Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Wow, that takes me back, Sav! I remember having a terrible crush on a boy in 4th grade. I made him an elaborate valentine card and couldn't wait to give it to him. He wasn't in class when we did the exchange. He was a Jehovah Witness and didn't celebrate holidays like that. He went to the library while we exchanged cards. I can still picture him sitting alone and that card sitting in my locker. I was so crushed and didn't really understand until years later. When I look back now I understand his religion a bit better, but I always feel a pang of regret that I never gave him the card.

Helen Scott Taylor said...

What a lovely tradition, Savanna. We don't treat valentine's day in the same way over here. (Or at least we didn't when I was a kid at school.) It's teenagers and adults who give valentines cards to that special person.

Horse valentines sound wonderful. I was a pony luving kid and would have swooned over the horse valentines as well. :-)

Evonne Wareham said...

I loved the pictures you got to go with this post. Clearly Valentine's Day on this side of the pond is tame in comparison.

Savanna Kougar said...

Anitra, I so know how you feel. Had a few crushes that 'got' crushed. Too bad he never knew.

Helen, when I was twelve we moved onto two acres, and we finally got a pony, half Welsh, half Shetland -- a smart spirited rascal. He was wonderful.

Evonne, yep, it's american excess, but giddy fun.