It’s May 1st, the first day of summer according to Celtic reckoning, a way of looking at the seasons that is arguably more sensible, particularly for our region, than the current calendar designations. Our ancient ancestors welcomed it with Beltane, which lingers in the modern world as May Day.
May Day used to be a big thing in my family when my brother and I were very young. We lived in Central Washington state then. Dad would fold “May baskets” from paper, and we’d fill them with flowers, mostly purple and yellow violets that appeared on the lawn at that time, and small treats, miniature marshmallows and chocolate chips. We’d leave these at the front door of the house, ring the doorbell, and hide to watch Mom come out and “discover” the gifts for her. After that, we helped her eat the treats.
The shift from spring to infant summer is subtle on the homestead, and yet it is the most “believable” of our seasonal transitions. by the time May 1st arrives, even though most plants are still just leafing out, there’s a definite feeling in the air that unmistakably means summer to those who live in this part of the world. Even when old snow lingers, and the night temperatures drop low, the days are soft and warm.
Summer is our most active season. If we have visitors, most come in the summer months. Fishing and gardening keep us busy, and the fresher food improves our health. Along with cutting and storing firewood for the coming winter, we tackle as many building and repair projects as we can fit in. By the Summer Solstice we’ll have more than 18 hours of daylight. Our living room expands to include the dooryard, banishing cabin fever. It’s a good time to be on the homestead!