An Island Valentine's Day: Food and chocolate
From chocolates to oysters, sunrise celebrations to weekend getaways, many Islanders are dreaming about how to celebrate Valentine's Day this Sunday. More than half the U.S. population pays tribute to Valentine's Day with 188 million cards purchased annually, second only to Christmas.
And while the history of the holiday may be murky (a melding of Christian and ancient Roman traditions) Vineyard residents are clear about what they deem necessary for a perfect Valentine's Day experience.
Kelley Nagi of Oak Bluffs, a busy ESPN technical consultant for live broadcasts, spends much of her time traveling for business. The married mother of a five-year-old daughter, with a second child on the way, Ms. Nagi says that although every day should be Valentine's Day, "That's just not a reality." Her holiday fantasy: food in any form.
"Since I'm eight months pregnant there has to be food involved," Ms. Nagi says unequivocally. "A night in a hotel or a bed and breakfast would be wonderful, but it probably won't happen. Dinner, definitely. Dessert first."
With a birthday that falls on Valentine's Day, Caroline Derrig of Vineyard Haven confesses to a love-hate relationship with the holiday. A bartender at Sharky's Cantina in both Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, and at the Portuguese-American Club, Ms. Derrig admits that her birthday always eclipses the romantic holiday. This year, however, a chef/friend has promised to prepare a special meal for her, featuring her favorite food: oysters - preferably Katama Sweet Neck, if available. And, from her unique perch behind the bar at Sharky's, Ms. Derrig says she enjoys playing Cupid, "Shooting arrows to inspire other people's romances."
Married just three years, investment advisor Brendan Langley and photographer Lisa Brown Langley of Edgartown share a vision of Valentine's Day that involves keeping the home fires burning. While Ms. Langley's perfect date would include a meal prepared by her husband - an accomplished cook - shared before a roaring fire, Mr. Langley's fantasy date involves the Island's sunrise and sunset, spectacular at this time of year. The celebration would end with quiet time in front of the fireplace, and she adds, "Chilmark Chocolates for dessert."
Thomas Redner, a physician specializing in wellness and integrated medicine at Martha's Vineyard Holistic Retreat in Vineyard Haven and in private practice in Manhattan, offers his prescription for the perfect Valentine's Day date: "I'd cook a nice dinner, light a fire, arrange a bouquet of flowers, choose a nice bottle of wine, suggest that we do yoga together, and talk about our relationship."
Married for 45 years, Ellen and Alan Bresnick of Vineyard Haven will be sharing this Valentine's Day with their three grandsons - aged 8, 10 and 12.
"We're babysitting while our son and daughter-in-law are on vacation," Ms. Bresnick explains. "I'm not overly romantic, but I love to send and receive cards and candy." Her ideal evening: "We'd go out to dinner with two other couples, have a good time and eat some chocolate."
Her husband concurs: "I'd suggest a long walk, take Ellen shopping and enjoy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants." This year their celebration will be, as Mr. Bresnick puts it, "enlarged with our grandchildren."
Penny Franklin of West Tisbury, manager of Island Health Care, says she loves to spend the holiday "surrounded by all my Valentines," including husband Gavin, daughters Emily, 23, Lauren, 22, and their boyfriends. Her formula: prepare a candlelit lobster dinner at home, accompanied by a nice bottle of wine with a box of Chilmark Chocolates for dessert.
Don McKillop and Susan Davy, co-owners of Dragonfly Fine Arts Gallery in Oak Bluffs, readily acknowledge their shared apathy toward the romantic holiday. "To be honest, we never make much of a deal about it," Mr. Mckillop says. "But we try to be thoughtful every day." The couple was so busy with the recent acquisition of the gallery last year that they missed their wedding anniversary. "Now we wish each other a happy anniversary every morning to make sure it never happens again."
Karla Araujo is a regular contributor to The Times.