Warm feelings hit cold reality

Snow makes it hard for some to express selves on Valentine's Day

February 15, 2007|By Arin Gencer | Arin Gencer,Sun Reporter

The quartets were hired to knock on doors and deliver messages of love through song. They were prepared to belt out tunes like "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and "Heart of My Heart." They would be armed with roses, candy and cards.

But some of the singers could not make it out of their driveways.

"We went to bed last night with every intention of hitting the road running, and it just didn't work out that way," Dennis Hawkins, the singing-valentine coordinator for Dundalk's Chorus of the Chesapeake, said yesterday. "It's not fair. But Mother Nature didn't say it was going to be fair."

As usual, the snow and ice that fell from the sky made schoolchildren happy: Every major school system in the area was closed. The weather gave drivers fits, with accidents slowing commutes, and left tens of thousands without electricity.

It also seemed to throw a bit of a chill on the warm, gooey feelings of Valentine's Day.

Flower shops and candy stores that normally count on Feb. 14 as one of the busiest days of the year instead had a lonesome air. And florists had to postpone some deliveries and reroute others from closed offices - sending drivers out to slog through the slush.

"Almost every address was changed and some deliveries were put off until tomorrow," said Lisa Sunday, manager of the Fleur de Lis flower shop in downtown Baltimore. "It really has had a big impact on us."

On a typical Valentine's Day, most procrastinators and passersby can't just slip into Fleur de Lis.

"It's usually insane, with a line out the door," Sunday said. "Now, we're just sitting here, twiddling our thumbs and thinking about going out to buy some cat food. There's just nobody out walking around down here."

At the Wockenfuss Candy store in the Mall in Columbia, customers, almost all men, are usually lined up on Valentine's Day. Yesterday, they trickled in.

For some restaurants, the weather introduced another undesirable wrinkle, as chefs waited for deliveries of seafood and produce for their special Valentine's menus.

Jason Ambrose, the chef and co-owner of Salt, a New American bistro in the Butchers Hill-Patterson Park area, said he was waiting for rockfish, which he planned to serve with baby vegetable ratatouille and crawfish butter.

"And here I am," he said, "hoping it shows up."

Despite the day's frustrations and mishaps, others managed to triumph: lovers who snagged a last-minute bouquet, deliveries that landed safely in the arms of surprised spouses, and restaurants that drew new diners to replace the ones shying away from perilous roads.

"We've had a lot of people canceling, but we've had even more people calling to make reservations," said Chrissy Carter, a bartender at the Manor Tavern in Monkton.

Liz Bundy, director of special events for the Milton Inn in Sparks, said, "I think if they're going to keep coming out, they're going to come some place like this that has a fireplace."

The Antrim 1844 Country House in Taneytown was running a "bad-weather special" for diners who called to cancel because of the weather, said Brandon Mollett, operations manager. Half of the diners at the fully booked restaurant were planning to spend the night in one of the inn's 30 guest rooms, he said.

The wintry weather didn't wreck Jeffrey Davis' plans for romance, but it certainly presented challenges. Davis, a downtown business owner, wanted to look sharp for an evening with his girlfriend, but both his barber and his dry cleaner were closed when he arrived yesterday morning to get a trim and pick up some shirts.

"They both had signs in the window that said, `Happy Valentine's Day! We're closed,'" he said. "I was kind of forced to do a lot of last-minute planning."

On top of that, with schools closed, his kids were at home. He still found time to pick up a dozen long-stem roses and drive to his girlfriend's home in Owings Mills.

Had her office not been closed on account of snow, he could have walked two blocks to hand-deliver them.

Sandra Holland, who works in the financial department at Sinai Hospital, was considered a nonessential employee because of the weather, and so with the day off, she decided to visit a florist.

This Valentine's Day, she said, was her first since the love of her life, Gerod, died of a heart attack last year. To cheer herself up, she bought herself some chocolates and picked out an assortment of roses. On the card, she wrote, "To Sandra, From Sandra."

"It's what he would have done if he were here," Holland said. "So I decided to treat myself."

With a map and sheets of paper, Bill Griffith navigated a Dodge Caravan through snowy streets in Bel Air. Among his deliveries from Richardson's Flowers and Gifts was a vase of red roses addressed to Karen Mueller, from her husband, Mark.

"I didn't think they would be delivering flowers today because of the weather," she said.

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