Another Day in the Country
May Day mayday
© Another Day in the Country
I don’t know how many towns in Kansas still have a May Day tradition of children (or adults) bringing people flowers May 1.
When I was a child, it was fun to drop by a little bouquet of flowers into a basket made of paper from what my mother called “the wallpaper book.”
The book was a treasure to receive. Ladies would submit their names at the store in hope of receiving one of these books when a new edition came out.
The paper was coveted by artistic types because it was sturdy even before wallpaper became plastic coated.
One of the first skills I learned was folding the paper into a cone-shaped basket and fastening a handle that could hang on a door knob.
In those days, most doors had knobs. It was exciting because once the baskets were finished and filled with whatever was blooming, including dandelions.
Mom would either walk me around the neighborhood or drive me in the car, and I’d run up to a door, hang a little basket on the knob, knock or ring the doorbell, and scurry away before the door opened.
May Day flowers were meant to be a surprise.
Sometimes, we kids would go out as a group, ring a doorbell, and hide until someone came to the door.
We loved to listen as recipients wondered who brought the flowers. When we couldn’t stand the suspense any longer, we’d come out of hiding.
Did that tradition start as a romantic thing or just a neighborly thing? In our neighborhood it was neighborly.
We still have the heart-warming tradition of bringing flowers on May 1 in Ramona. Jeannie started it, I think, a couple of decades ago.
Some years, there weren’t many flowers blooming on May Day. Jeannie began getting flowers from a nursery to share.
I loved getting those little plants every year. One year, it was an echinacea plant. It returned in my garden year after year — a little message of love from a neighbor.
At first, Jeannie brought her grandkids with her to deliver flowers. Then, as I recall, it was Jeannie’s daughter bringing the children to deliver plants.
Often, the kids brought marigolds. I’d find a place to plant them where I could see them often with their cheery blooms.
It happened last week. I knew it was the first day of May, but I doubted the tradition would continue. Those kids who religiously delivered flowers for years are in high school now. They are teenagers with lots more to do than deliver flowers around Ramona. But they did!
I’d been working in the yard, mourning over the plants I’d put out too early that had frozen. Wishing I’d been more patient, I went around the side of the house, and there, sitting on the porch rail, was a marigold plant, blooming away.
They came! I was thrilled. Evidently they’d rung the doorbell while I was in the back yard and didn’t hear. What a lovely surprise.
A little while later, Jess came over to bring me scones she had made.
“Oh, I see you got one, too,” she smiled, pointing at the marigold.
“Was it Jeannie this time?” I asked. I figured the kids would have outgrown that tradition.
“I saw Michael,” my sister said, her smile getting even bigger. “It’s so cool that these teens are still delivering flowers — just warms my heart!”
I’ll tell you what else is cool and heartwarming. Jess and I have been hanging children’s artwork in the little gym at Centre for this past week for the annual Artful Eye Show.
It takes quite a while to turn a gym into an art gallery. There was artwork everywhere when we finished — on the walls, on tables, on bleachers, on stools, even on the floor.
The fifth grade at Centre Elementary made “floor clothes,” this year. Floor clothes are rugs made out of heavy canvas, painted with acrylics, coated with Varathane, and hemmed and backed with non-slip rug backing. (Did I say they are wonderful rugs? I’ve used several for 10 to 15 years in my house.)
They are a lot of work for 10- and 11-year-olds to concentrate on, and even more work for their teacher.
I ventured that project this year because the class was small (eight children). I’ve done it with bigger classes a couple of times before, but I was 10 years younger then.
The rugs, covered with sunflower designs, were beautiful. The gym was festive. It was like a three-ring circus for artists.
After it was over, we restored the gym to its intended use, and I drove back to Ramona with a car full of props, chef costumes, benches, flowers, twinkly lights, and even a china chicken with real eggs.
Jess was in front of me driving Tooltime Tim’s old truck with round tables, ladders, and milk cans filled with fake sunflowers.
We’d done it for another year. The art show was a great success. We were happy campers, exhausted but glad to be living another day in the country.