Making May Baskets
As a girl growing up in New England, I loved the tradition of making May baskets for neighbors. We kids would make little baskets, from cones of paper or more elaborate woven paper strips, for everyone on the block. We were not allowed to pick from anyone’s actual garden, so we filled our baskets with “found” flowers from sidewalk edges, alleys, along the railroad tracks and the edges of the woods. Usually we’d find spring beauty, bloodroot, Virginia bluebells, columbines and of course shaggy yellow dandelions, with sometimes a trout lily or trillium (which I would never pick these days, but were fairly abundant back then).
If you want to try your hand at making a woven May Day basket, there are plenty of posts and videos to show you how. These simple heart shaped baskets go together quickly and look far complicated than they really are. You can make them from construction paper, origami paper, wallpaper samples, felt or stiff fabric and they’ll all work. If you have a hard time weaving the pieces in and out, shave off a little bit from the width of the lowest (last) strip and it will slide into place better. Tape or staple on a paper strip for a handle to hang on a door knob, then line your basket with a piece of cloth to keep it from getting soaked by the flower stems. Too complicated? Fold fabric or paper into a cone with a closed bottom, fasten on a loop of ribbon for hanging and call it adorable (because it is, no matter how funky).
Darling Buds Of May
As Shakespeare knew, there are in fact a zillion buds everywhere on this first day of May, but not as many open blossoms as usual for this time of year. Our chilly spring has set back a lot of early bloomers, including the famous Skagit Valley tulip fields, a popular tourist destination which are just peaking in glory now, weeks after their usual time. Even so, my early morning ramble turned up a sweet bundle of bloom, including fluffy golden puffs of Kerria japonica, bright white candytuft, English lawn daisies in rose and pink and white, a scattering of delicate blue forget-me-nots and some soft yellow kale flowers. I also found some soft purple blossoms of native self heal (Prunella), my granddaughter’s favorite herb and the inspiration for her awesome Halloween costume last fall.
I also came upon some of the same flowers I found 3,000 miles away and nearly 70 years ago, including columbines (though these are PNW native blue ones), bluebells, and of course dandelions. There were lots of late daffodils and quite a few tulips but those childhood ‘don’t pick the garden flowers’ lessons seem to have stuck, as I still prefer to see most flowers in the garden. Those bluebells I found are not natives, but Spanish, and they appear in profusion wherever they’ve ever been planted, however long ago. They also appear in plenty of places where they haven’t been purposefully planted, as they produce great quantities of tiny bulblets that tag along with nearby plants which get new homes, and sneak into compost as well, sizing up in sudden bursts of blue or white or pink. Bees and other pollinators do enjoy them but they really don’t belong in the garden proper or they’ll quickly crowd out choicer plants.
On The Home Front
After two weeks at home, my daughter is making more progress every day. Though each step may be small, they represent courage, effort, determination and grit as she retrains her body into remembering wellness. Some of the work involved is both mental and emotional; after being disabled for far too long, she now has to rethink her assumptions and claim her wellbeing again. Thanks to the pandemic, she was struggling alone with what we now know was a long standing and very serious digestive system disorder, undiagnosed because it came on gradually and because only online tele-med visits were available to her. At Harborview/UWM, she got the best care possible, now she gets me. Hmmm. Fortunately, last week we managed to get her (and her wheelchair and walker and etc.) to meet her new care provider, who works on this side of the water, so we don’t have to trek into Seattle with all the gear.
She’s been working with a dear friend who’s an Occupational Therapist and comes to the house several times a week. Our initial meetings were fantastic but unfortunately last week she tested positive for Covid19 the day after her visit. Fortunately, she always wears a KN95 mask when she’s working. Equally fortunately, both my daughter and I have tested negative all week. Gotta say that it gave me pause; we really don’t need one more thing to add to this mix of challenges. It also renewed my determination to stay masked myself around other folks and keep our household closed to almost everyone else.
Laughter Is Good Medicine
Today our OT pal is back and as I write I can hear laughter and joking along with joyfully encouraging exclamations. My daughter is trying out transferring to and from the wheelchair with different chairs, which they carefully measure for seat height and rate for ease of getting up (down is pretty easy, getting back up not always). Now they’re out on the porch, taking in some fresh air and enjoying a momentary sun break. A few weeks ago, I never imagined we’d come this far so soon. Onward, right?