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.