VALENTINE’S DAY IS just around the corner, which has me thinking warmly about things—and people—I love.

But first, a brief history. Apparently, there was more than one Saint Valentine: Valentinus, from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful was a common name between the 2nd and 8th centuries A.D. The St. Valentine who is usually associated with February 14 was a Roman priest and physician who is said to have suffered martyrdom for marrying Christian couples during a time of Christian persecution by Emperor Claudius Gothicus around 270 A.D.

Several sources I read claimed that Valentine’s Day did not really come into existence till some time around 1375, when the poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem called “The Parliament of Foules” (the Old English spelling of “fowls”, i.e. birds), referring to February 14 as the day both birds and humans come together to find a mate.

“Love makes the world go around,” said . . . someone. (According to the internet, multiple people said—or wrote—this!) “All you need is love,” sang the Beatles. “The course of true love never did run smooth,” wrote Shakespeare, along with the lovely lines from Sonnet 116 that Marianne and Willoughby quote to one another in Ang Lee’s 1995 movie, Sense and Sensibility:

“Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark . . .”

Echoing the familiar biblical passage on love, I Corinthians 13:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. . . . It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. . . .”

So, onto some things I love!

Besides my family and friends (OF COURSE!) I love my cats, Zoe and Serafina.

I’ve already written about my deep and abiding love for tea! Especially tea at the Old Parsonage in Oxford, one of my very favorite places in the world, and the place where Lucy and Sam enjoy a memorable tea in The Walled Garden.

I love roses.

I love my garden–especially in summer!

I love books–with or without cats in front of them! (With perfect feline timing, Serafina settled herself here just as I was ready to take this picture . . .)

I love England–and here’s another of my favorite places, the Oxford Botanic Gardens.

Now, tell me about what you love! And Happy Valentine’s Day!