Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Day

It's May Day! A reminder that sweet spring is here is the first bloom of my gardenia bush.
These are my favorite flowers, both for their sweet scent and even sweeter memories, as they were the flowers I carried the day I married my sweetheart!

I remember as a little girl my sister and I preparing May baskets for our neighbors back in my small hometown. We would grab whatever flowers we could find:  lilacs, pansies, dandelions. Whatever we could find (and hey, we occasionally "borrowed" flowers from neighbors as well), then we formed cones out of newspapers or wove baskets of construction paper and delivered our gifts to the neighbors. Sneaking up as quietly as two giggling girls could, we would lay the bouquet down on the front stoop, ring the doorbell, and run away as fast as our little feet could carry us. They are sweet memories. How I wish I could experience the joy of a sloppy sweet floral gift from a neighborhood child, but I've never had that pleasure before. I think it must have fallen out of custom. Even my own children haven't done them. Perhaps it's time to rectify that today!

May Day reflects back on a fascinating heritage, most notably of which is the May Pole. I remember dancing around the May Pole at the summer solstice garbed in my Swedish Dancer costume. It was so much fun to weave in and out with the ribbons and gaze as the  the pole grew attractively clad in the bright colors.

There is an obvious pagan connection that as a child I never considered, but the May Pole dance goes all the way back to the medieval period. Other connections, such as fertility and male and female relationships are also reflected in May Day traditions. It is only natural, given that this time of the year is just bursting with new growth.

Regardless, let's not let this May Day go unobserved.

Here is a lovely poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson called May-Day. I've reprinted just the first lines, as it is quite long, but it is gorgeous, and I plan on stuffing myself full of it later today! Enjoy!

Daughter of Heaven and Earth, coy Spring,
With sudden passion languishing,
Teaching Barren moors to smile,
Painting pictures mile on mile,
Holds a cup with cowslip-wreaths,
Whence a smokeless incense breaths.

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