LOCAL VIEW —Mayday! Mayday!—

If I’d put a third “Mayday” in the title it might have cost me, as putting out a false distress call is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000.00. However I could argue that I do need help in my garden. (And the “Mayday” call comes from “Help me!” in French.)

It’s another gray, cool morning, with the wind still drifting in from the cold Atlantic. We got a touch of rain over night, though not enough to really blunt the dryness. I may have to add “watering” to my list of chores, when “planting” is way behind, due to the late spring. Just about the only thing busting out is the forsythia.

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Forsooth I see forsythea
Forsaking winter woes;
Fortune’s cheery child’s let loose
For something must oppose
A forest foreign to the spring,
For buds won’t burst, nor songbirds sing;
Forsooth I can’t see anything
For slaking winter woes
But yellow-splashing
Riotous forsythia!
Who needs a store-bought rose?

That is the best I can do, in terms of celebrating May Day in the proper Yippee-yahoo manner:

Actually the reason peasants could celebrate was because, even way up in northern Europe, the planting was usually done by May 1. Maybe not this year, as I understand a lovely April was hit by late snows. But back when they were all celebrating May Day it was likely the Medieval Warm Period, and springs came earlier.  The big, bad baron likely wouldn’t let the peasants take a break until the work was done.

Even with the planting done they likely had plenty of work. The word for “May” come from “Maia” in Latin, named the goddess who wound up as a constellation: (The oldest of the seven sisters). However before Rome imposed its authority, the Old English word for the month was Þrimilci-mōnaþ , which means “Three milk month.” In other words, with the grass so lush and green, and the days so long, you had to milk your cows not twice, but three times a day.

I’m sure no one was complaining, as they were coming off Lent, when food was very scarce.  It’s only in modern times that we march about on May Day and call for the take down of the big, bad barons, or riot in Baltimore, or do whatever it is we can think up to blame others for our lack of unity, brotherhood, and fellowship.  Nor do we truly ever escape work.

Back when I felt holding a real job might “stunt” my poetry, it always seemed avoiding work was more work than actually working. Even when I succeeded in finding a way to mooch, it was a sort of compromise that my conscience noted, and my work became arguing with myself. Even if I did find time for poetry, it was all arguing. (To me it seems that, if you listen to rioters on welfare, you can hear them arguing, arguing, arguing, although they usually don’t understand they are actually arguing with their own consciences.)

To me, traipsing around a May Pole celebrating a job done well sounds far better than marching about chanting political slogans, but I doubt I’ll do either, today. Today I want to plant as much as I can.

A cool east wind won’t be a bad thing, now that I think of it. And where there were three tree swallows flying about twittering yesterday, today there are twelve. Lastly, I really do enjoy looking down a row of planted seeds, and seeing a job done well.

Maybe I can make it a celebration, after all.

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