It has always bummed me out that we're forced into having such a fixed idea of how to celebrate Valentine's Day. Yes, yes, it's for lovers - and we plan to wine and dine lovers of all ages with a superb menu on February 14th  - but why waste an opportunity to spread the wealth a little?  As millions are gathering today to peacefully try and find common ground based on fairness,  it's a good time to remember that to celebrate love in all the many forms it comes to us... is to honor life.

Because there are so many kinds of love, other than romantic, that awe, confound, excite, and humanize us. That keep us going. The picture above of Lukka and his just born niece, Loulou, is that rare thing, love at first sight. I believe in love at first sight - my daughter Isabel was born on a Valentine's Day, fathered by a man I fell instantly in love with - a love that's still going strong 30 years on. It happens. But spontaneous love of any duration is the rarity.  Love can come in all shapes and sizes. Be for a person or a calling, someone or something we truly believe in. It takes patience, and respect, to keep it going. It's mark is indelible; the greatest self fulfilling prophecy we have.

Here are five enduring reasons that make life worth living around here, all year, not just on Feb. 14.  Write a list of your own, then get out there, and grow it. 

#1  Loving Fathers (Uncles and Grandads!)

#2 Farmers who give a damn

#3 Chefs who give a damn

#4 Animal Love

#5 The delicious art of eating the view

All images Jil Hales, with the exception of Big Dream Ranch produce, courtesy Kristee Rosendahl. Graphic design by Kirsten Petrie.

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