My name is written in blossoms


Who would have guessed, years ago, when I made this sketch of artistic, musical, multi-talented, other-worldly pre-Raphaelite Hallie (then in Middle School), that she would now be embarking upon a double Master’s Degree in Physics and Education with the intention of teaching science in inner-city schools? Happy Birthday, Hallie! and many good wishes.

Here is a May poem for this day.

Hark! The sea-faring wild-fowl loud proclaim
My coming, and the swarming of the bees.
These are my heralds, and behold! my name
Is written in blossoms on the hawthorn-trees.
I tell the mariner when to sail the seas;
I waft o’er all the land from far away
The breath and bloom of the Hesperides,
My birthplace. I am Maia. I am May.

—Arthur Symons, from The Poet’s Calendar


May Revelries


Unlike the Winter Revels, the May Revels is always held outdoors, and I recall the days when, on the first Sunday in May, Brandywine Street here in Washington DC was closed to traffic, decked with garlands of flowers, and temporarily transformed into a festive Olde Village. Nowadays the May Revels is frequently a component of Washington Cathedral’s annual Flower Mart, and, although of smaller scale, is still a lovely opportunity to watch a mummers’ play, sing, and dance around the Maypole. (And you can also visit the Flower Mart, whose featured country this year is Jamaica.)

This sketch is from a May Revels that took place at the National Audubon Society.


CakeDaisiesAunt Francie


Here We Come A-Piping

For May Day, a poem for you to chant, and a sketch of the LAST lily-of-the valley in my garden. (They popped out strangely early this year.)

In some countries, the first of May is a holiday in commemoration of the international labor movement, marked by rallies, marches, and parades in recognition of the worker, sometimes followed by picnics and dancing. This latter activity harkens back to the far more ancient festival of the first of May, which, like Groundhog Day and Dia de los Muertos, falls roughly halfway between an equinox and a solstice.

For May the first is (what else?!) a happy acknowledgement of the arrival of spring and its attendant burgeoning fertility. At last the winter is truly behind us, and the world is so fresh and green and blooming that sitting indoors at a computer seems an act of madness. Shut it down, doff the heels/necktie, deck yourself with a crown of flowers and skip about in the gentle spring sunshine, celebrating the world’s inexhaustible and optimistic fruitfulness.


Here we come a-piping,
In Springtime and in May;
Green fruit a-ripening,
And Winter fled away.
The Queen she sits upon the strand,
Fair as lily, white as wand;
Seven billows on the sea,
Horses riding fast and free,
And bells beyond the sand.