So it’s 19 degrees outside, there’s a light dusting of snow on the ground, more is falling out of the sky, and I thought I would never stop shaking after I spent five minutes standing in the cold at 11 p.m., photographing the Swinney’s Hardware sign … but the Cubs’ pitchers and catchers reported to Mesa today, so obviously, it is now officially spring.

I don’t normally celebrate Valentine’s Day by dragging Ron out in the cold to shoot signs at 11 p.m., but we were just down the block from Swinney’s this evening anyway, having gone to the Circle to see American Hardcore, a great documentary about the hardcore punk scene, so we brought his camera along to see what I could get. After he dumps the photos off his camera, I’ll take a look and see if I got anything worth posting.

Ron’s little Kodak can be a bit uncooperative in low light, and the cold weather makes it a little temperamental (it and me both — I am not fond of subfreezing temperatures), but I didn’t feel like dragging my Rebel all over town tonight. It’s an amazing camera, but it’s also big, heavy, and rather valuable, so I prefer not to bring it along on trips where it’s likely to end up “lost or stolen or strayed,” to borrow a phrase from Milne. If the Swinney’s shot didn’t work tonight, I’ll take the Rebel out and try again tomorrow.

We don’t make a big fuss over Valentine’s Day, but tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year. Tomorrow is the day that all of the little chocolate hearts with fluffy strawberry filling go on sale for half price, and tomorrow is also the day that the drugstores will start putting the Cadbury eggs and marshmallow Peeps on the shelves. I think I’ll check and see if I can rustle up some Peeps for my friend Laurel, who is recovering from a rather harrowing adventure involving her health. Laurel and I share a deep and abiding love for Route 66, good sushi, Archie McPhee catalogs, and marshmallow Peeps. It takes a special friend to understand about old motels, tuna sashimi, Nunzilla, and the delicate flavor of a marshmallow bunny impaled on a fondue fork and roasted to perfection over a gas burner….