When I was a girl, my mother and my grandmother taught us to pick any of the blooming flowers available on May 1st and tie them up into little bouquets. My sister and I would harvest the early daffodils, woodland violets and trout lilies from the woods. Sometimes there would be spring beauties. Of course we would pick dandelions. In my younger years, in Los Angeles County, California, there was no end to the choices. But in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, on May 1st, the offerings were slim.
My sister and I would then sneak around the neighborhood, lay the bouquet on the front stoop, knock loudly on front doors and then run like the wind to hide. We’d watch, secretly, while the door would open and someone would peer out, then down, and pick up the bouquet. Often we would come out of hiding, giggling, and wave hello before heading to our next hit. It was thrilling!
In our very rural Southern Vermont neighborhood, my own children did the same, collecting nearly the same types of bouquets, and then I would accompany them as they snuck around the neighborhood. It was harder to get away with being sneaky in such a rural setting. When you arrive at someone’s home in these parts, there are usually warning dogs that announce your arrival, or you’ve been walking a distance in the open which makes it easy to know you’re coming. It’s not quite the same in a more thickly settled area. However, my kiddoes would find a tree or a bush to hide behind, not realizing our dogs were giving them away near their retreat.
Delighted neighbors would find their bouquets and call them out, though it took a year or two to “train” these folks. At first when the kids hid May-baskets, people didn’t understand what was going on. One neighbor suspected foul-play, what with the knocking and the hiding and all of that!
My kids didn’t care. They found the gifting to be as exciting as I had as a child.
Today there will be flowers dropped off for friends, but I don’t know if there’ll be hiding or not. We’ll see!
My wish for you is that you can find a way to celebrate and enjoy a spring tradition, be it age-old, or something new for you and yours.
Happy May Day!