I was sitting with a group of friends late in April, looking out the window and relishing, finally, the sunshine and melting snow. One woman, who has just spent her first winter in Alaska, commented she had taken her great-grandkids to the Easter Egg Hunt in the park on the weekend. “It was the first time I ever hunted Easter Eggs in the snow,” she laughed. And we all joined in with stories of Alaska Easter egg hunts, more in the snow than not.
That led to discussion of other spring celebrations we had enjoyed as kids. And we were all of an age to remember May Day. Most of you recognize May Day as The Day of the Worker as celebrated in Russia but not so very long ago it was a fun early spring “Day” at school.
As with most seasonal observances, May Day is of pagan origin and marks the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It celebrated things starting to sprout and grow and when cattle could be taken to pasture. One of the friends reminded us that the movie “Camelot” has really great scenes of a King Arthur-era May Day celebration.
They don’t celebrate May Day at school now but in the past it was usually an art project in the primary grades to make May baskets to take home to Mom. If there was an active (or interested) music instructor for the middle grades, they might install a May Pole and learn the dance, which consisted of long crepe paper strips and weaving in and out wrapping them around the pole, as I remember. The fun came in making a May basket full of flowers and hanging it on the neighbors’ door (or grandma’s) and knocking, then running and hiding so they didn’t know who left the gift but peeking from behind a tree or bush or your own front door to see them find the basket and look around, smiling.
My friends and I lamented a bit no spring flowers yet, and how we look forward to even the first crocuses. We are all from somewhere spring flowers are in abundance: the Pacific Northwest, the South, Colorado, the Midwest, so nostalgia was rampant on that beautiful April day with the sun shining, snow melting and the thermometer maybe reaching 40 degrees. One friend mentioned she had been given a hyacinth and how fragrant it is as it blooms in a pot in her living room. That launched talk about what we could expect to bloom in May, assuming the snow keeps melting and the sun shining. Everyone hoped for daffodils and tulips if the moose hadn’t eaten them.
Flowers got us immediately onto Memorial Day; this year on May 30 as it should be. While Monday holidays are OK we all agreed, changing the old holidays to Monday was not anybody’s favorite thing. You may have guessed by now that we are a pretty traditional bunch of people.
But not too set in our ways. We all did, at one time, pull up stakes and move to Alaska. And we have all adapted our lifestyles to the changes necessary to living here but maybe because we moved away from what we knew best, the traditions mean a little more, even after so many years. But mostly we are old, and beginning to feel like we are the last bastion of “the way is was.”
“OK, Boomer” is supposed to be the current put down by the “woke generation.” What they don’t even realize is there is still a generation before that who are very active and vocal. One which has seen more technological change than they can even envision. They can’t dial a phone or drive a stick shift, but I can scan a QR code and manipulate a remote start. Also check the oil and set the clock on the dash.
The younger society seems so ready to get rid of anything that hints of “we did it this way” no one can hem a pair of pants, or cook a meal. I never did learn to make lye soap, either, so maybe it’s a generational tossup. But I do know how to find out how to make soap, and I doubt that either Siri or Alexa knows how to use a needle or fry an egg.
But now it’s mid-May and it looks like spring. Youngest son took me out for brunch on Mother’s Day and Daughter sent me flowers. I saw several of the Millennial group out with their mothers, too, so I guess tradition hasn’t died yet. There are some we will all hang on to.
And I can hear them 50 years from now saying “Darn kids! Can’t even scan a QR code”.
Virginia can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.