May 2019 Almanac
By Ash Alder
The soft thud of a magnolia blossom crashing down upon the tender earth takes me back . . .
Rope hammock swing.
Soft light filtering through smooth green leaves.
Love notes tied with twine to sweeping branches.
We both knew it would not last. And yet we had our glorious season.
Life is like that. Fleeting as a fragrant white flower. And as May blossoms burst forth in jubilant splendor, we cherish the transient, intoxicating beauty of spring, and relearn the sacred dance of loving and letting go.
May is the beginning and the end.
On the bookshelf, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac hasn’t been opened since the crash-landing of yet another bygone romance that died on Easter weekend, years ago now.
January, February, March, April.
Four cozy months of essays read aloud in bed, yet if we took any morsel of wisdom from Leopold’s poetic reflections of the natural world, it was this: Life is an endless dance of change.
This morning, I take the book to the front porch, turning to the dog-eared page of May — a fresh new chapter.
As a black-capped chickadee draws quick sips from the nearby birdbath, I read about the return of the upland plover, what Leopold refers to as the “final proof of spring” in rural Wisconsin.
Here, the final proof of spring is gone. We have landed on the fresh new chapter of May, a glorious season of its own.
Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life. — Sophocles
Cinco de Mayo
Mark your calendar. The Eta Aquarid Shower peaks just before dawn on Sunday, May 5. You could witness 10—40 meteors per hour. Not exactly the return of Halley’s comet, but it’s a chance to catch a glimpse of the famous comet’s debris. Find yourself a soft spot on the lawn. Breathe in the aroma of Southern magnolia. Enjoy the show.
The Mother’s Moon
The Full Flower Moon rises on Saturday, May 18. Also called Mother’s Moon, Milk Moon and Corn Planting Moon, this month’s moon illuminates red fox pups, fluffy cygnets, and wildflowers everywhere.
Speaking of lunar magic, The Old Farmer’s Almanac looks at the positions and phases of the moon to determine the “best days” for various activities. This month, the best days for planting aboveground crops are May 8 and 9 (plan now for July sweet corn on the grill). Plant belowground crops May 26.
Cut hay May 1–3.
Prune May 10–11 to encourage new growth.
Can, pickle, or make sauerkraut on May 26.
’Tis like the birthday of the world,
When earth was born in bloom;
The light is made of many dyes,
The air is all perfume;
There’s crimson buds, and white and blue,
The very rainbow showers
Have turned to blossoms where they fell,
And sown the earth with flowers.
— Thomas Hood
Gifts for Mama
Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 12. I think of my fourth-grade teacher, who asked us to bring in one of our mother’s high heels. Yes, just one. We spray-painted it gold, lined the inside with floral foam, and proudly stuck a dozen plastic flowers inside. Happy Mother’s Day to all. May you walk in beauty.
Here are a few seeds of inspiration for the beloved mother figure in your life:
• Daylily bulbs
• Mexican tarragon for the herb garden
• Ornamental pepper
• Wax begonia
• A new pair of shiny gold shoes