May Baskets & May Flowers
As a child, one of my favorite traditions was making May baskets and leaving them hanging on neighbors’ door knobs. Back east, early May produced daffodils, tulips and azaleas, as well as pansies and forget-me-nots. I often put in a few dandelions, admiring their cheerful, sunny shagginess and the way their stems split and curled tightly into little slimy coils. This year, May 1 saw me moving flowerless from the big house where I’ve lived for well over a decade to a charming, cozy rental a few miles away.
My own house will go on the market on a few weeks and we’re still making all tidy and splendid back there. Here in my new space, I’m realizing that while it just takes a little while to cram things into boxes, it takes far longer to figure out where they will go at the other end. And if they will in fact fit at all. While spacious, this house is a lot smaller than the former one and there are still many decisions to be made. Drat. I’ve come to feel rather resentful of needful decisions, having had to make far too many in recent days, weeks, months, years. I’m longing for a little time out, though as a certified adult I am aware that true retreat can be hard to find; I can go wherever I like, but my mind comes with me.
Happily, a friend who loaded her car with my stray belongings on moving day also brought me food and a huge bunch of May Day flowers. Creamy pink roses, pale green hydrangeas, gently tinted waxflowers are cradled in salal and ferny fronds. Outside, I can see more salal and ferny fronds, along with billows of creamy and rosy rhododendrons and the pale foam of wild cherry, bright against the backdrop of cedar and fir. A few madrones are wreathed in softest chartreuse blossoms, as are the bigleaf maples (just looking at them makes me sneeze but they are indeed beautiful).
This house backs onto a ravine that’s alive with birds, who create enchanting morning and evening choirs. It’s also alive with deer. Indeed, as I am learning, the resident herd numbers around 20, thanks to a kind hearted neighbor who enjoyed feeding and nurturing them. All of them. Ah well. Though pleasant, airy, and welcoming, I suspect that this house will be more of a perching place and less of a garden spot for the next few years. There’s a large, low deck that the grandkids have already claimed, as well as several small brick terraces that will make excellent spots for a wading pool and sandbox (which will definitely need to be the covered kind, given the wildlife quotient). The big pots from the old house deck are being delivered today and I’m curious to see how long the kale and greens will last…
Making May Memories
I am utterly blessed to have my grandkids spend a lot of time with me. As we wandered the new yard yesterday, exploring between the huge old trees and making our way through tangles of tall grass, I realized that despite Tuesday being The Wrong Day, we can enjoy our own May Day tradition here and now. We made a game of finding all the flowers we could, from the ubiquitous pink violets that seed themselves with amazing determination to blue stars of Vinca minor, the rhododendrons and wild cherry, and a few lingering daffodils. The long grass is spangled with fluffy dandelions, which we put into a clear glass so we could watch the stems do their curling act.
As I settle into the house, I’m already thinking about what to do out of doors. If full-on gardening is limited (which it certainly will be, thank you Bambi), I can still have some of the more compact Rugosa roses, as well as hardy herbs like rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme. I can see stinging nettle rising from soggy patches of ground, and I recall that their long, snaky roots are ripped up most readily in spring, so I’ll put on long gauntlet gloves and go after them before the grandkids get stung. We can make tea with the nettles, then replace them; blueberries might be happy, as well as hydrangeas (though some deer eat both sometimes). If the next few months and even years are filled with pondering about gardens and people and material possessions, that’s sounding pretty rich and wonderful. I’ll keep you posted.