Sweet Miss May

May 25, 2008 by Ellen Stimson in Springtime, Vermont. New England

I just heard Garrison Keillor say on the radio that the beauty of May is that the whole country is on the same page. He’s right. In a few weeks our friends in the South will be baking in their early summer dog days. A few weeks ago we had snow up here in the North Country. But for one sweet little month we can all safely say, it is spring. Sure some of you got daffodils a couple of months back, but then you had a few cold days in April when everybody worried about putting the garden in much before Mother’s Day. It is to May that we all look for the certainty of warmth and a universal greening.

May is almost a secret. Everybody has a favorite month and May often gets overlooked at the party. I have always loved October for the bawdy color and the first crisp days calling for sweaters and boots. Then there is December with its celebratory feel and a few sparkly white days that always feel keenly exciting. Lots of people love June. Maybe they got married then, or just love the promise of summer. June 1st rolls around and they start thinking of hot dogs and lemonade. The garden is coming on and vacations are getting planned. July has a bunch of days off work if its a lucky year and the 4th happens near the middle of the week on either end. There are parades and fireworks, and the hours by the pool.

But little Miss May just sits out here with her green climbing up the sides of hills and mountains everywhere. The leaves are all lacy and new, and the green is fresh and tender. There are flowers galore and the evenings are still cool enough for sitting on the porch with a cup of tea. Mother’s Day gets celebrated and there are homemade cards, and baskets of flowers hanging on the porch. There are a few days when the summer sun can be felt and you can stretch out on your balcony with the scent of jasmine form the Mother’s Day pots wafting along as the new sun gives you a little glow that doesn’t seem dangerous enough for UV protection.

Deviled eggs start appearing on the table along with summer salads. There are spring strawberries at the market, and bright red rhubarb next to the fiddleheads just waiting for a dab of olive oil and parmesan to being the sweet taste of spring right to your table. Then sometimes a storm blows in and your almost summery glow is heightened by a little spring fire along with the popcorn and movies that night. The next morning there are branches and leaves in the yard, but it is warm enough to pick them up in your nightgown. You can carry a mug of hot coffee into the garden in the morning and it will keep you plenty warm as you look over your new tomatoes and the bean shoots just coming on.

May is almost like a secret. It has a quiet beauty that maybe you have to be in your forties to fully appreciate. The end of May sits here pretty squarely in the middle and reminds you of all that has happened while tempting you with what’s just coming. May has the sweet spice of middle age about her. I think now, at least for today, that I love May… maybe best of all.


  • Tranny Head

    Today is an almost obscenely beautiful day here . . . this weather is hard to beat.

    But my heart is with October! 🙂

  • Family Adventure

    To me, May carries the promise of things to come…while my preferred season is still the fall, May (and spring) is a very close second.

    Hope you’re having a lovely weekend,


  • Susiewearsthepants

    I love May weather. Not too hot yet, and not too cold. It’s actually comfortable to be outside.

  • ILX

    ILX said: glad you’re having a nice May…STL is cold, wet, dreary…basically torrential rains every other day…biblical rains…stopped just long enough for the farmers to get most of their corn in…October is my Favorite…

  • Angela

    I love this post…and you so nailed the beauty of this month!

  • painted maypole

    Lovely. (although, here today, it is HOT and humid)

  • Nell

    You write like a dream

  • Jennifer

    We haven’t had much of a May this year…it’s been cold and blow-y and just…ick. But no, I’m not bitter. Not at all…

    But what a gorgeous post!

  • library lady

    This has been an unusual May here in God’s country (Midwest)! We’ve had unusually beautiful bulb flowers–especially spectacular tulips, but it has rained a LOT! On the other hand, it hasn’t been like a lot of our Mays–two days of spring followed by four months of 90 degree days. By being in Vermont for a few days, I had the best of both worlds–any time you can experience the lilacs twice in one spring, you’re way ahead.

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    I love May too! I love it all- the heat, the rain, the thunder, the green. I love love love it!

  • Kate

    We ALMOST had snow in May this year and I am the current nominee for the FIRST WORST SUNBURN OF THE YEAR AWARD! That, after 85 degrees and breezy over Memorial Day Weekend.

    Funny you should mention May and October. Both of which I have written off forever. (Although I may have to rethink that…) When I was struggling with depression, I always managed to go psycho crazy pants in May and October. I’m pretty sure it had to do with the changes in sunlight/temperature/barometric pressure/you name it, but it was horrible. It’s been two years since I’ve landed in the crazy hatch and I might just have to think about blooming lilacs as something to enjoy rather than dread.

  • Sara

    Lovely post, as always.

  • Bia

    Every year I go back and forth as to which is my favorite season: spring or fall. When fall rolls around I say, yes, definitely fall; but when spring arrives I change my mind. After reading this I have to say, yes, spring is my favorite season . . . at least until October!

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