M'aidez, May Day
There's a springtime snowglobe swirling outside my window. The pear trees lose more tiny white petals with every gentle gust of wind, leaving behind fresh green leaves in their wake. These flower faeries swirl in the air, carpet the lawn, and dance along the street's blacktop. From a distance, they look like little marbles or those supercold ice cream pellets called Dippin' Dots.
A lone, cream-colored daffodil keeps watch in the mulch against my house, refusing to bow to her age. But she'll soon sleep until next spring. The lavender lilac bush is already in full bloom, begging me to come out and cut some branches and signaling that summer is around the corner.
Everywhere I look is green, green, green. The promise of nature is best this time of year, when everything is new and delicate, not yet wilted or withered by hot summer sun. Autumn is my favorite season, but spring holds a close second in my heart. Both are lovely because they are the gentle seasons before the extremes of southwestern Pennsylvania's snowy winters and humid summers. I like warm (not hot) days, followed by nights that ask me to pull on a sweater or a zip-up hoodie when the sun goes down. And I like explosions of color, be it the deep reds and flaming golds of maple trees in the fall, or the pale pink blossoms of cherry trees and the glowing yellow forsythia of spring. Autumn and spring embody both ends of the spectrum, at once temperate and extreme.
Today is May Day. May day is a pagan celebration, a day of public protests, and an international distress signal. M'aidez: French for "help me."
Today, the occasion of May Day helps me to remember what I want. For you see, I've forgotten to water my dreams.
That statement is both literal and figurative. Let me explain.
Over the past year, as I've recognized my hunger for ritual and tradition, I've begun to mark the passing of the seasons. For the Autumnal Equinox, I took a page from Jen Lemen's ritual for letting go of things that weigh me down. I wrote the names of my personal albatrosses (albatri?) on stones and leaves. The stones I tossed into a lake, and the leaves I let fly out of my moonroof as I drove along back country roads.
For the Vernal Equinox, I decided to do the opposite. Instead of focusing on what I want to lose, I looked at what I want to grow. As it was the 20th of March, I wrote a list of 20 things I want to cultivate in my life.
And then I burned the paper they were written on.
And mixed the ashes with some seeds and soil.
The seeds were old; little packets of blue cornflowers and white Shasta daisies that I got for free from a gas station, years ago. I didn't have much hope that the seeds would actually sprout, but they were all I had on hand. I was running out of daylight and time, and it was either do the rite with old seeds, or not do it at all. I decided that the symbolic act of the ritual, complete with prayer and private poetry reading, was more important than the viability of the seeds.
So I planted the seeds, put the pot near a window in my studio, and have forgotten to water them ever since. This is not only bad for the seeds, it's bad symbolism. I forgot to water what I want to cultivate in my life. Not good.
On May Day, I want, as my friend Allyson put it, "to do elaborate, lush things, like May baskets and May poles, picnics and flower crowns." But instead, I'm busy with a major project deadline and figuring out what to eat for supper. So today, the extent of my ritual will be to water my little pot of dreams, not worrying about whether or not anything physically blooms there. I welcome today as the reminder that time moves forward, nature rejuvenates itself, and there's always an opportunity to nurture my soul, symbolically or practically.