May Day

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May Day for me, as a child, was a happy day of spring flowers and May baskets. We made baskets and cones out of wallpaper samples. We went out in our yard and picked violets and other wild flowers and filled them to overflowing with spring color and fragrance. The early morning was always damp and the grass was full of dew. No lawn mowers had cut the beautiful green grass yet so the violets were still snuggled safe when we went out to pick them at dawn. We had made the baskets and cones the day before, so we could fill them and hang them on our neighbors doors before they went out to get their newspapers.

As a young mother, we did this when our children were very young. We had a field of violets that grew under a small tree in our front yard. Experts had been sure it was a honey locust and yet other experts were sure it was a mountain ash. At any rate, it had feathery white flowers in spring that grew to clusters of orange berries that hung heavily in the fall as beautiful ornaments. In the summer we could fit a small wading pond under the tree for the children to cool off in the hot afternoons.

After a couple of years, though, I noticed the tree did not look healthy. We called in experts that fed it, and trimmed it. Having been a child, whose family moved from a house because our huge elm tree died of the blight that went around in Illinois, I was well attuned to the importance of trees. A fall later, my husband, Herb, announced that he had a friend that was willing to cut the tree down with his chain saw. It was obvious the tree was not going to make it, but I said – we need to wait for the sap to go back into the earth before it is cut. But – the friend came over anyway. However, his chain saw would NOT start! I said it was because it wasn’t time to cut the tree yet.

He had no trouble starting up the chain saw when he returned home. Herb said he was coming over in a couple of weeks. But I said the tree had not been spoken to and prepared to be cut down. Well, the same thing happened. The chain saw wouldn’t start. So, Herb’s friend began to believe me. I said – after the first frost would be good.

In the meantime, I went out and communicated with the tree. I thanked it for its beauty, its shade, the field of violets and the family fun under it. I told it we were planning on cutting it down after the first frost, and its energy would go back into the earth to be recycled into another form of beauty.

When Herb’s friend came after the first frost, his chain saw started right up and the small tree was easily taken down. That was about the end of our field of violets, though. Our children were about three and five. I had learned all about nature from my dad. My daughter may have some memories of this because she grew up to be a forester and has always had a deep respect for and communication with trees.

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