Flowers are romantic, and so is candlelight. Love notes, dancing, long walks together, snuggling in front of the fire, eyes meeting across a crowded room, weak knees and racing pulses. Oh, forget it. Not saying I won’t probably receive some flowers from my sweetie, but staring into each other’s eyes and heaving soulful sighs? Not going to happen. What is going to happen is my choice of one of the many fine events on the Black Hills’ Valentine’s Day roster. So get ready, darlin’, cause here’s the list I’m looking over: * Do you have a heart as big as Texas? It’s love Texas-style with Rex’s Exes, on stage Feb. 14-17 (and Feb. 21-24) at Matthews Opera House in Spearfish. The heart-rending drama: Gaynelle Verdeen is in hate with her upcoming rendezvous with the big 5-0, but cousins Peaches and Jimmie Wyvette nevertheless plan a surprise birthday party. Lots of surprises ensue: the birthday bash turns into a family funeral, Peaches’ supposedly dead husband returns – followed by a Cajun bounty hunter, a jilted bride holds the three cousins hostage with a loaded paintball gun and more. It’s a birthday, it’s a funeral, it’s a wedding – it’s a hot-blooded, redneck tour de force for Valentine’s Day. * If you are lovelorn and lonesome, you might be a cowboy. Fine guitar picking and cowboy humor are the ingredients for “Romance on the Range,” with long-time area showman Gordy Pratt. This Heritage of the American West Performance is set for Feb. 14 at Spearfish Convention Center, with tickets available at the door for $13. Gordy will play heartfelt tunes by such legends as Jimmy Rodgers, Bob Wills and Guy Clark. There will be a wine and beer bar at 6 p.m. before the 7 p.m. show, and one lucky chocolate lover will get a box of Chubby Chipmunk truffles to take home. * Whether or not you have a beau, a swain, a paramour, a suitor or just an admirer, consider purchasing a Victorian Valentine treat to help restore the historic Valentine McGillycuddy House in Rapid City. Piece of Cake Bakery and Café at 901 Mount Rushmore Road is selling specially decorated petit fours (4/$4 or 9/$20) for the holiday, and if you mention the McGillycuddy House, 20 percent of your purchase will go towards the restoration. When fully restored, the McGillycuddy House will hopefully be a tourist destination for Rapid City like the Adams House is for Deadwood.
* Sorry, procrastinators, you’re too late for the Valentine’s Day Bistros on Feb. 14-15 at Prairie Berry Winery. They are sold out! But if your Valentine has the patient, easy-going personality best suited for lackadaisical lovers, consider putting off your celebration until Sunday, when you can enjoy a Sunday Brunch Special at noon that features crepes. Last Sunday’s menu included ham and Swiss crepes, crepes with Nutella and strawberries, mimosas, fresh scones and croissant and a breakfast cheese plate. For sure, food lovers should be more than satisfied!* If you’d rather stage your true romance in the Great Outdoors, plan a heart-pounding episode this Saturday, Jan. 16, by going on the Lovers’ Leap Snowshoe Hike in Custer State Park. It’s a guided three-mile hike along Grace Coolidge Creek, with both a 9 a.m. and a 1 p.m. start from Peter Norbeck Visitor Center. The hike is considered moderate to strenuous. Call ahead to reserve snowshoes; a limited number are available. * You can enjoy the urban outdoors in downtown Rapid City on Feb. 14 during Love is in the Squ-air at Main Street Square. There’s two for the price of one open ice-skating from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., along with free horse-drawn carriage rides. And if you want to know of your love life is going to be rocky or smooth, Joan Pillen will be giving love fortunes and Tarot card readings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Of course, there will also be lots of sweet and soulful music all afternoon long. * You are likely to see lots of long-time lovers gazing into each other’s eyes as they twirl around the floor at the Valentine’s Day Dance from 2-4 p.m. at the State Vets Home in Hot Springs. Miss South Dakota and the Ellsworth Sergeant’s Association will be in attendance; music is by Herb & Friends; and refreshments will be served. Plus, it’s free! * Sticking with the traditional “dinner for two”? You will find special Valentine’s Day dinner deals at many area restaurants, including Aught Six Grill at Deadwood Mountain Grand, Buglin’ Bull in Hot Springs, Laughing Water Restaurant at Crazy Horse Memorial and Bayleaf Café in Spearfish. If your choice is the overnight Sweetheart Special in the Canyon at Spearfish Canyon Lodge, stop at the new lookout at Bridal Veil Falls on your way to dinner. If you are like me, what better time and place to say “thanks for the lovely flowers” and give your golden oldie from 1955 a big “forever and always” kiss!