May Day & Mayday. Dancing or Sinking?

GinnyNormaDGinny here. The last week of April and first week of May were swallowed up by The Vagina Monologues and V-Day Bellingham. There’s much more to come on this topic. In a nutshell though, we were sold out one night, had a great party the other night and all is well with our world. Well except for my very scary Norma Desmond turn at the Silver Reef last Thursday. Hey, it was fun!

I love May. The month was marked for this New England girl by the local pool opening the last weekend in May, by lobsters appearing in tanks at seaside markets, iced tea tinkling on the dinner table and pink cherry blossoms everywhere. My Irish grandmother helped me make a May Basket full of flowers to hang on the front door for my mother—ring the bell and run away!

To summon summer we’re definitely dancing

Now when I think of May Day, I first think of the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane celebrated to mark the turning of the seasons from spring to summer. I picture a maypole with dancers weaving ribbons of fertility for the growing season and coming harvest. The Romans celebrated Floralia, for Flora, the goddess of spring who spread flowers across the land with her warm breath. May Day traditions flourished in Britain for more than 700 years, crowning the May Queen, celebrating the antics of Morris Dancers, and bringing in the May to encourage all growing things. All these customs were pretty sexy and raucous so they were banned by the Puritans. The Maypole was one of the first customs reinstated by Charles II when he was restored to the throne in 1660. Then, within photographic memory, the maypole became a more genteel pageant for young ladies and children. Here’s a truly fabulous collection of vintage images from that era.

National-Park-Seminary-May-Day-1907Image: National Park Seminary May Day 1907 © Leet Brothers (Washington, D.C.)

To summon rescue in case we’re sinking

Here’s what the National Maritime Museum Cornwall tells us about the mayday distress signal: The mayday call sign originated in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford (1897–1962), a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. He was asked to think of a word that would indicate distress and would easily be understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency. Since much of the traffic at the time was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, he proposed the word ‘mayday’ from the French ‘m’aidez’. Here’s more.

800px-Lifeboat.17-31.underway.arpImage: Severn class lifeboat courtesy of Adrian Pingstone

Milk Moon, Flower Moon

Now it’s almost the middle of the Lusty Month of May and last night was the full moon, known by many names, Alewife Moon, Blossom Moon, Budding Moon, Frog Moon Lily of the Valley Moon, Mulberry Moon, New Waters Moon, Panther Moon, are just a few. This is my favorite place to find moon names.

MilkMoonAltarHere in the Pacific Northwest it was predicted to be clear (what?!!) so we could welcome the summer season under her visible light. And did we ever! Big love to Latisha Guthrie of Petal and Moss and Marybeth Bonfiglio for inviting us to participate in their first women’s circle to welcome the nourishment of this glorious full moon. You can read Latisha’s account of the evening here.

In days of yore, I used to wander the Texas Renaissance Festival with my besties singing this round. Several of our friends recognized it and it was one of the ways we howled last night.

How cool is that? Still May. Still dancing.

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