Another First: May Day-ed!
I was napping in the back room when a loud rapping came at the closed door. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! It was hot and we had been out to the Napa Home and Garden Show, so I was pretty out of it when this rapping occurred.
Knowing my young grandsons were out and about, I drifted back into a sleep. Almost immediately again: Bam! Bam! Bam!!
“Grandma’s sleeping,” I called, as I sank back into the floaty space of afternoon slumber.
When I woke 20 minutes later and opened the door to rejoin the world, a cone of flowers lay at my feet! And suddenly I was five, having just made a May Basket out of paper, having just filled it with May flowers, certainly some from her garden, and having just hung it on my grandmother’s door knob. She always received it with surprise and delight, standing there on her back porch, her surrounding yard full of volunteer blue bells and butterflies.
Sometimes the baskets were woven paper, sometimes cut-outs from patterns which we colored and glued in Sunday school or during art in first or second grade. The custom stems from my Irish roots and Beltane, and all the wild things that Beltane celebrates: the burst of spring in its flowering trees and plants after months of snow and ice, Beltane fires and fertility, courting and bawdy customs in the fields I will not delineate here, but which we all know about.
May Baskets carried these customs forward in secret gifts announcing love interests. In a deep way, I suspect that was very much at the heart of my giving these baskets to my grandmothers. I loved these grandmothers deeply and reveled in giving back to them. It is a spontaneous, clandestine act, perhaps an early initiation into the mysteries of the giving of Santa Claus or the Easter Rabbit.
Wesley and Sabien, aged five and three, squealed with delight as I expressed genuine, happy surprise. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, cones of flowers rested at almost every threshold, announced by a loud Bang! Bang! Bang! Each time, I opened the door, expressing happiness, and, yes, surprise!
“Should we tell her the secret?” three year old Sabien asked Wesley as they helped me water newly planted flowers. “No, no, no!” Wesley said, able to contain the mystery that grandma almost certainly knew nothing about.
So I had my first experience of being May Day-ed this year, my first experience of receiving a lineage of mystery and delight.