Valentine's Day honors all ties of affection, from schoolchildren's innocent intimacies to the "likes" strewn on Facebook. But let's talk about romance and the occasions that nourish it. In the ideal date, one person takes another by the hand and leads him or her into a realm of wonder. And how does one recognize that wonder? Through the passion one senses in the other person and the answering passion in one's own heart.
Passion can be found in all things, even chess and mathematics. I'm not capable of being flirtatious with the Queen's Opening or making you giddy about l'Hôpital's Rule, but I can speak for geology lovers. "Heart" is an anagram of "Earth" for us. In the science devoted to landscape and rocks, the perception of color and form is not just an observational tool but an art. And the pursuit of meaning in geology begins with perceptions and intimations of beauty. So I heartily recommend dates with geologists, especially in this part of the world.
Ryan Brown, an undergrad studying meteorites at Portland State University, has fond memories of one such date in the Bay Area:
"My pseudo first date took place in San Francisco while I was down there over the holiday break. I met a guy through my friend that I was staying with and he offered to show me around the city. There was a mutual attraction between us, but I was heading back to Portland and he to Iowa City. For that reason I call it a pseudo first date.
"Had it been a first date, it would have been damned near perfect. I say that because he took me to all these geologically interesting spots and just listened to me ramble about the geology. And he was actually interested in what I was saying, too. He didn't get bored when I started to talk about the significance of the chert and pillow basalts at Twin Peaks. Nor did he zone out when I got excited over the possible Bouma sequences at Sutro Baths and the neighboring beach a bit further down. I think he was amused by my ramblings actually.