Thursday, 17 May 2012

Cast not a clout 'til May be out

We may have lost the real May Day to the forces of reaction and there are even those who want to change it again into a celebration of nationalism, the blight of the 20th century and now infecting the 21st.
In this puritan era where anything that distracts from the the purposes of commerce is frowned upon, we have forgotten that, since the reform of the Catholic Calendar, May 1st is the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of workers. Seeding has been completed by this date and it was convenient to give farm labourers a day off. In France, the Fete de Travail is kept in the letter and the spirit "Saturday 1 May 2010 Le Premier Mai: Fête du Travail. Being a bank holiday, it rained. We knew everything was closed; even the Géant said ‘Fermeture Exceptionelle’. The boulangerie in the village was open for a short while in the morning, so I went down for croissants and a baguette. Got soaked on the way"

This was the time we had a puncture in France and were unable to buy a new tyre because everything was closed but it was hardly the end of the world!

Anyway, now at last and in spite of the rain, May blossom is coming out.

I caught a scent of it as I came in from walking the dog one evening earlier this week but what we really need is a few warmer afternoons and a bit less rain, then, as in previous years, the high hedge opposite our houses will erupt with the sight and scent of Spring and early Summer.

As well as the heady scent of May, the verges are filled with the stems and flowers of Cow Parsley, which as children we called Keck. It's a type of wild Chervil and, so long as you don't mix it up with similar-looking Poison Hemlock(!) and Fool's Parsley, you can feed it to horses. Cow Parsley adds to the almond-like perfume of the hedgerows at this time of year.

If only the rain would stop for a decent length of time.

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