Here in southern Maine, May is in full swing. On our road, the last detectable snow disappeared May 4. Every season has its pluses and minuses, its pros and cons. May is the time for peepers and black flies, flowers and lawn mowing, tree swallows and ticks. Overall, the pluses far outweigh the minuses: the intense color of the fresh grass, the forsythias, PJMs and daffodils. A few years back I planted four wild trout lilies (also known as dogtooth violets). They seem to like the location and have spread into a patch over 50 feet long, and about 20 feet wide, a virtual carpet of mottled leaves and small, yellow flowers.
I’ve already had to cut the lawn. After a very wet April, it greened up in two weeks , from a brown mat, to a lush green, compete with dandelions. The first mowing is kind of fun: I get to walk in areas of the yard that I haven’t been to all winter. However, from now until October, it is a weekly chore. With roughly 1 1/2 acres to cut, using a walk behind mower, I put in about 5 extra miles of walking.
I spend a lot of time walking. It’s good, low impact exercise. Spirit insists on two walks a day, and since last fall, I’ve been averaging 8 miles a day.
Now, two weeks later, spring is at its best. Lilacs, quince and apples are in full bloom. For this part of New England, it is a long spring, almost 4 weeks. The last two have been rainy, drizzly, and cool, extending the blossoms. The smell of apple and lilac blossoms, combined with damp earth and rain, is almost intoxicating. So far, the warm weather has held off.
May is also “volunteer” month for me. As a member of the Friends of the Shakers, we have our annual Spring Work Day, to help the Sabbathday Lake community get ready for the opening on Memorial Day. We put in screens, mow, paint, repair picnic tables, weed, and cut brush. It’s also sheep shearing time. C. H. Becksvoort © 2011
Shortly thereafter, a few members of the Maine Woodworkers Association head up to Haystack Mountain School of Crafts for a few days of work. We are responsible for getting the woodshop ready for another summer of classes. This year, 8 of us sharpened over 100 chisels, gouges, and turning tools. We made two beds for a new building, shelves, stools, and performed basic maintenance on the machines. Haystack is one of Maine’s treasures. Located on the edge of Deer Isle, it sits on pink granite, surrounded by dark fir trees draped in lichens. Angular gray shingled buildings connected by wooden walkways, talented people, amazing food, and the artistic atmosphere, make this one of my favorite places.