We thought it was a light-hearted idea: Run a Cutest Couples photo contest in time for Valentine's Day.
Leave it to our readers to inject meaning and depth into something as fluffy as this.
Readers entered 115 photos of couples in love, which is what we expected. What we didn't necessarily expect was the poetry, or the stories of spouses standing by one another and sharing tender, stolen moments.
Well done, readers!
It was nearly impossible to choose winners, and we can't swear that the five photos chosen by our judges and the Peoples' Choice winner picked by online voters are really the Rogue Valley's Cutest Couples.
But they sure are cute.
The No. 1 choice of our judges was titled "Newlyweds," a photo featuring Lauren Frank and Parker Chase, submitted by Gail Frank.
The photo shows the newlyweds at their wedding last September on Orchard Home in Medford.
Gail Frank, the mother of the bride, said Ashland photographer Toki Cavaner took the photo, which was later used on the couple's thank you cards.
"I just thought it was a great shot," Frank said.
The couple met while studying at the University of Puget Sound and have been together for more than 10 years. Now living in Los Altos, Calif., she works at Netflix, he at Propel, a biodiesel company.
"Anybody who knows them says they're a really sweet couple," Frank said. "They are the life of the party."
(clockwise from top left)
"20 Years of Happiness," a photo of Steve and Danielle Sharpe taken last May, came with a note from Danielle that said, "True love only gets better with time!"
Megan Sperle of Jacksonville was moved to submit a bit of poetry with the photo of her and her hubby, Brandon, titled, "Married, in love, and expecting baby No. 3."
Husband and wife, who are best friends for life.
With two little girls, our love's without strife.
Now expecting one more, our love grows on.
Husband and wife, best friends for life.
Bryan and Eunice Kenyon warmed the judges' hearts with a photo titled "Staying Warm."
In it, the couple, who were watching their great-nephew play football on a chilly day, were photographed sneaking a kiss.
"Chemo Support," featuring Todd and Jill Kennedy of Central Point, was a definite tear-jerker. It shows a bald-headed couple mugging for the camera.
By way of explanation, Jill wrote, "I went through chemo, and my husband shaved his head so I wouldn't feel so alone and awkward. The love he showed me by supporting me through the whole ordeal is incredible. I am thankful to have such a loving, supportive husband."
"Puppy Love," submitted by Jake Jakabosky, shows Jake with his dog, Korra.
Jake's explanation, submitted with the photo, says "Korra and Jake, soon to be a forbidden love if pitbulls are banned."