Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day

Although the nights are still cool, they can be cool through most of the summer up here in the mountains, it's finally warm enough to keep some windows open. It's my favorite sleeping weather, warm enough to open the windows, cool enough to still cuddle under several layer of quilts. Even in the middle of the night, the air smells like summer. It smells like flowers and soil and green.

I discovered my lilacs blooming this last week. They're tucked back in a little used corner of our yard. I had to climb under bushes and over the woodpile to even get to them to cut these. I placed it in a small vase and put them on top of he woodstove, which is centrally located, so I can see them most of the time. Lilac season comes and goes so quickly. In years past placing them atop the woodstove would symbolize that we had finally moved past the need to use it. Now the stove is no longer hooked up and I'm waiting impatiently for someone to come up with a plan on how to get it out of the house so I can use the space it now occupies. But, back to the subject, this one small bouquet has filled the entire house with the scent of lilacs.

Laura at Blame it on Paris wrote a lovely May Day post, a day early, which was nice of her, to remind the rest of us who are obviously less organized and who rarely look at calendars. She talked about a little French flower called muguets. In the U.S. they are called Lily of the Valley and I remember them fondly from my childhood in the upper Midwest. I wonder if I could get them to grow here? I'm sure it could take the cold (if it can make it through a winter in Minnesota, I think it can handle the mountains of California!), but I don't know if it could handle the dryness.

She also talked about May Baskets. I doubt many younger people even know about this old tradition. When I was a child, I remember my mom helping us make little May Baskets, really more "cones" than "baskets", and leaving them hanging on the doorknob of people's front doors. Part of the tradition was to leave them anonymously, as an unexpected surprise. I don't know if we did it just one year or many years, I just remember enjoying the experience.

I suppose they couldn't have been much of a surprise since it was May Day. Although, since no one makes or leaves them anymore, nowadays it would truly be a surprise. Each year I tell myself I'll be organized enough to make a few May Baskets and reawaken such a lovely tradition for welcoming the return of the green season. And every year I..... don't. Hmmmm. Maybe I'm making this too complicated. There's still time to go to the market and buy some fresh flowers. Even sans baskets, they would still be in the spirit of the holiday.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if May Day was a recognized holiday and we could all have a day off work to dance around the May Pole, gift each other with flowers, and enjoy a day outside with Mother Nature? Alas, most of us have to stay inside and tend to more important things like shuffling paper, manufacturing something plastic, calling clients, or... well, you get the idea. I wish our priorities were less monopolized by the culture of consumerism.

Just one more May Day activity for you to enjoy, this link will take you to a live rendition, (not the best rendition, but still lively and fun) of my favorite May Day song, Merry May Folk by Emerald Rose.


Blogger see you there! said...

Happy May Day!

I too remember making and delivering May baskets. When I was very small we lived across from a field that was often full of wildflowers. I'd pick bachelor buttons to fill the baskets. I wonder if those flowers still grow in the open areas in Oregon.

Thanks for the reminder

4:13 AM  
Blogger kristen said...

one of my friends grew some lily of the valley - i thought i'd seen them before, but when i saw her flowers, i realized that i hadn't. they are so beautiful and dainty and have SUCH a lovely scent!

your lilacs are lovely and i can just smell them! mom came over on sunday and we tried to re-evaluate things in our (very small) yard. the voles and the bunnies have been having a lot of fun in our yard. i'm mostly okay with it, but if the voles eat the roots of our trees, i will be VERY put out.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Blame It on Paris said...

I think we definitely need a May Day holiday! When I was very, very little (5?), I remember watching my slightly older sibling dancing around the May Pole at school. I knew this was something I was going to get to do when I, too, was "big"--age 7. But by that time, they had already stopped doing it.

It's funny the way it's stopped. It's such a lovely holiday to celebrate. And usually a beautiful time of year when everyone just feels that relaxed, refreshed spring/summer holiday mood.

I love your lilacs! Alala posted lilacs, too. That's a flower I don't have, I wish I did.

2:56 PM  

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