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There’s a scene in the musical Camelot where Guinevere and her ladies hair unpinned and wearing medieval underwear, are dancing in the woods singing, “It’s May, it’s May, that merry month when everyone goes happily astray.” In those days, calendars had a lot more meaning. Why else would they have dragged those monstrous stones to Stonehenge to build one?
I don’t know if it’s my Welsh blood, but I’'ve always loved the month of May. For one thing weather seemed more sensible then. May meant the end of winter. The April showers really meant May flowers. Things started blooming all over the place, and song birds were singing like the Tabernacle choir.
Everyone looked for the first robin and some lucky kid able to report the first
sighting had his name put on the chalkboard. I remember a sad little nursery rhyme, about North Winds doth blow and we shall have snow and where will poor
Robin go? The answer was into a barn to keep warm. That’s what he got for being early for the party. I was reminded of this poem a few weeks ago when, during that April blizzard there was a picture in the morning paper showing two robins sitting in a pine tree, being blasted by snow.
There were a couple of May rituals when I was a kid. There was the Maypole
decoration and dance. This has its roots way back in time. I don’t know how or where we found the pole but it was always there, ready for the fun. Hours were spent making long strips out of crepe paper, which we then wound around the pole while singing. The girls thought it was fun but I’m not sure the boys did. I thought this was a lost tradition until I saw a TV newscast from a nursing home where preschoolers were dancing around a Maypole.
There was another strange ritual which I’ve always wanted to research to see if it were observed in other places besides the area in which I grew up. Where I
lived, May first was considered moving day. If you were planning to move you scheduled it for May first. My family moved four times by the time I was 12, and it was always on May first. There were moving vans all over the place on that day.
May was a fairly common girl’s name back then, not only as a full name but also as a nickname for Mary. I always thought it was my mother’s name until just a few years ago when I learned her name was Mary Ann. She chose to be called Mae, which she was except by my father who called her Betty Brown, or just Betty.
When I was born I was given the name Virginia Mae Lee. I hated the name Mae and dropped it the minute I entered school. I didn’t much like the rest of it,
being a dyed in the wool Yankee.
Speaking of Yankee, I have returned to the fold of baseball fan, but not to the
Bronx Bombers. No, I have become an ardent follower of the beloved Red Sox. It’s taken me a long time to see how special they are, almost as dear to my heart as the old San Francisco triple A team, the Seals.
My interest was tweaked by the acquisition of the multi million dollar pitcher
from Japan. I started reading about him and the other Japanese players in the big leagues. It is very interesting, particularly the way they are trained. Once you learn about this, watching them play becomes a lot more fun. The other factor was an article in the New Yorker about the Red Sox outfielder, Manny Ramirez. This is a fascinating character, both on field and off. So it’s May, Hooray, play ball.
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