By Kat Vriesema-Magnuson, Experiential Learning Manager
May is a time of possibility, May flowers brought by April’s showers foretelling the coming of summer’s fruits. The month dawns with the midway point of spring, celebrated by people across Europe and by European-influenced culture in North America as May Day, Beltane, or Walpurgisnacht, with festivals of flowers, fires, and celebrations marking the greening of the earth. May Day is also celebrated internationally as International Workers’ Day, a day to organize and advocate for the rights of working people, calling on us to make the world a better place for our fellow humans.
Green is the colour of the month. The big leaf maple is a fresh, bright green, just like the new tips of the Douglas-fir. Grass and clover and dandelion and plantain mix their greens in my yard, and every bush and tree in my neighbourhood have exploded with greens in the last month. The farm, too, is becoming green. The black plastic tarps that keep our soil protected over the rainy winter are rapidly leaving, and the fresh dark earth underneath is sprouting everywhere with radish greens and lettuce greens and spinach green and pea greens.
Flowers are the theme of the month. The last of the cherry trees are done blooming (it takes a long time to make a cherry, so they have to get started early), only to be replaced for the briefest of moments by elderflower, then mountain-ash, then hawthorn. The berries are getting in on the action, too. The salmon berries are giving their last flowers now, as they make their first fruits, heralding the coming of spring salmon back to the streams. Thimbleberries are growing so quickly from fresh shoots to large, white petaled flowers, and strawberries, too, are calling to the bees with their flowers. And on the “domesticated” front, the raspberries are about to bloom with just enough time for the first berries before the end of the school year. Last year’s brassicas – kale and arugula and horseradish – are in full flower, and the lavender and sage are close to bloom as well. Soon we’ll be seeing pea flowers (if we can restrain ourselves from eating all the pea tips).
Kids are blooming, too. You can see it in their excitement to be outside, to run, to play, to climb, to explore. We’ve had kids from kindergarten through grade 9 out to the farms for field trips in the last week, and they are all just full of excitement, energy, and wonder at the living world they are part of. One of the things we’ve talked about this week is that humans are part of nature, too, not separate from it. We all are part of the same living systems as big leaf maples and bumblebees and raspberries. We all need the sun’s light, the rain’s water, the air around us and the earth under us. So is it any surprise that we feel May in our bodies?
I’ll leave you with a song that perfectly expresses May to me, Spring by Richard Shindell.
With joy in the possible,