May Day

Today is May Day!

Since I was a little girl, my mother raised me to mark this day with a special sort of joy.

The night before May 1st, Mom and I would fold lace doilies into small cones, staple a ribbon around the tops, and fill them with cut flowers, sometimes picked, sometimes purchased. 

On the morning of May Day, a few minutes before we left for school, I would run to nearby houses and hang the fragile vases on the knobs of our neighbors' front doors. The next time they walked outside, a little bouquet would greet them. Sometimes I'd even keep vigil at our front windows, squinting to see which neighbor would find our offering first. In my mind, we presented the greatest mystery of the year: who were these secret flower girls reminding the houses on our street that May had arrived? Now I imagine that they knew all along, and perhaps were keeping their own vigils from their own front windows, waiting to see if the little Palmer girl would come running by with a lace doily in hand.

I miss that ritual.

It denoted the change in season from winter to Spring, a time when our community would rejoice and encourage transformation by spreading seed on brown lawns and moving conversation out to back decks and front porches. We were shifting from our winter ways, but we didn't need a Hallmark holiday to make it happen. On May 1st, there were no specially marked bags of candy, no family parties, no obligation to send thank-you notes. 

This small celebration was all our own, just a mom and her girl, spreading beauty around the neighborhood in a simple way.

Photo by The 2654 Project

I left off right about here as I wrote this post earlier this morning, unsure of what it meant that something I loved as a girl has since been lost. I haven't made a doily cone since my wedding day, and though it would make perfect sense to spread a little springtime beauty around the dorm where we live, hanging flower baskets on door knobs hasn't exactly been at the top of my priority list. 

This afternoon, I got a call around 4pm to come by our Public Safety office. I could think of only a few reasons why I would get such a call, and most of them involved an emergency situation of some kind.

But it wasn't an emergency waiting for me at the office.

It was a bouquet of flowers, from my mom.

"Someone sent me flowerrrrs!" I cheered when I called her to say thanks. I rushed through telling her how I started writing this blog about our May Days of old, how I missed sharing that celebration of spring with her, how I loved that giving away bouquets was our unique way of marking beauty and celebrating new life.

"You're the only one I send May Day flowers to," she replied, and I held the bouquet a little tighter. I've set the flowers on the kitchen windowsill-where all cut flowers should go, in my opinion-in the hopes that whoever might glance toward our apartment over the next week or so will be cheered by ranunculuses and roses: small signs that Spring is finally, finally, here.

Today is May Day, and my mom and I keep vigil over it even now, in our own simple way.