When I was in third grade and school lunches were still cooked in the school kitchen and milk came in little square cartons, my teacher Miss Wilkes had us save our milk carton on May Day.
We spent P.E. dancing around the maypole in the gym: our fingers holding the end of a colored crepe paper ribbon whose other end was attached to the top of what was a volleyball standard on other days and then as the music played we were sent weaving in and out under the bridging arms of classmates coming the opposite way.
Once we got back in class, Miss Wilkes, who smelled nice and had curly hair, lined us up at the sink to wash out our milk cartons. Showed us how to cut the tops off. How to cover our cartons with colored paper.
We glued on colored paper handles. Then let the tiny,square,boxy baskets dry in a jumble-colored row beneath the window. After school, on the walk home (uphill both ways) we'd fill them up with dandelions, purple alfalfa, shepherd’s purse/bread-and-butter plant, wild salsify (deep purple and yellow), the mallow we called "cheesies," and sweet-smelling morning glory weed. Then, leaving our basket on someone’s front step, ring the doorbell,run to hide.
We still trick-or-treat in October, but who does May baskets?
Well, this year, we do. This Friday afternoon, May Day, YoungSon and I suddenly found ourselves with an open field of time.
“Hey, do you want to make a May basket?”
He’s a little old for this. And grumbled some. Except that, at the same time, he knows my craft-doing days are so very very rare that novelty alone was already starting to win him over.
“Oh, come on. What color should we make it?”
And then he was picking out construction paper to make this basket. I helped him tape it together when the glue didn’t hold and then he ran around the yard and came back with apple blossoms, forget-me-nots, blue bugle, creeping charlie, Spanish bluebells, English daisies – so many they could hardly fit in the tiny basket. Once the basket was full of flowers he hung it on his sisters’ bedroom doorknob.
And then hovered around, urging them to their room when they came home at last, "Don't you need to put that away in your room? Do you feel like taking a nap?" Both girls were pleased. He was pleased. And I am pleased.
I wish I were handy enough to make baskets of blossoms for all of you. And I would put in them:
my favorite May poem (also here)
and the picture to go with it (from a photo blog I love)
something that made me laugh
And do yourself a favor and read this, too.
Have a joyful May – we’ve mourned long enough.
For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come;
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land
Love that singing turtle!
(okay I know it means turtledove, but I've always imagined something more like the joyous YAWP of a happy Yertle content in his pond.)