May in New England is so close to Heaven that I wonder how the early preachers managed to keep the eyes of their people turned to the future life. Nobody could help being dazzled by the beauty of this world if he rode down a Connecticut country highway in the soft sweet light of a May morning. Heaven enough for me, at any rate; I wish everyone could see it.This is pretty much the way I feel too, though it is heaven with qualification. If you have read this blog very long, you might know that I am going to use the 'T' word - ticks. I still can't figure out why we have them now but never did before. Climate change? I don't know - most things here are the same as they've ever been. Moose population? Deer? Mice? I guess the cause doesn't really matter because none of those things are going to go away. They are a problem for a couple months, and then when the weather is hotter in July, we aren't bothered much. So far today I have found seven on Lucy. I may have said it before but this is the reason we will have only yellow Labradors and not the blacks or chocolates. The ticks are easy to spot. Years ago we had a lot of black flies, the scourge of northern New England in the spring, but they have decreased quite a lot since my kids were little. We would put bee veils on them so they wouldn't get so bitten. It used to be miserable to work in the gardens in May because of them, but now they are just an occasional nuisance. Did they decrease when the ticks came? The latter have been around for at least 14 years. That is when I remember them on our collie, MacIntosh. I've even wondered if perhaps his epilepsy came from Lyme disease, in those days when we didn't really know that ticks were around. We'll never know. Every bit of paradise has its pests and problems. Some have poisonous snakes or spiders or scorpions. Some have fungi that cause disease. There's always some kind of snake in Eden to have to worry about, I guess. But as a kid, the only thing I ever got was a mosquito bite. No black flies, no ticks. So something changed but I've never read a real explanation. Okay, enough about ticks, etc. I remind myself of Gladys as I go off on rambles wherever my mind takes me!
A difference between us is that she adores having bouquets. I used to. However, I decided over time that it just wasn't worth it when my cats would always go after them, chewing leaves, pulling the flowers apart. The only reason I can get Vanessa's bouquets (in Flower CSA under Letter Topics on the sidebar) is that I put them on the wood stove which Raya can't jump on. Perhaps when she is gone, I will begin having bouquets again all over the house. Gladys isn't that troubled by her cats getting into the flowers.
May is almost a perfect month in many ways. One is that now flowers can come into the house. And no matter how involved we may be with the house, the garden, the dogs, there will always be time to arrange flowers. And bouquets will be happy in glass pie plates, wooden mixing bowls, old sugar bowls, bean pots. I have an antique knife box, painted black and stenciled with a colonial design in dull gold. In it go tin cans, cut down to fit. It is lovely with pale misty-gold forsythia and massed jonquils. I use the forsythia for the line of height, and keep the jonquils low, toward the edge of the box. Add to this one Siamese cat, batting the flowers around with a brown velvet glove, and you have something really nice.As you can see, she has an artist's eye for putting flowers and containers together. My 'arranging' is more pick and pop into an old glass jar so they look much like they did outdoors.
As always, in among the practical things in life, Gladys offers philosophical ruminations that give the reader pause.
Sometimes I stop to think, now, that every day we are making memories. And I wonder whether I make happy memories for my own child. I feel sure that if families would be conscious of the fact that everything they do or say may one day be a memory, there would be less quarreling, fewer harsh words spoken. It is nice to be right, but better to be remembered pleasantly. And there is something so inexorable about the past; you can't change it. You can only try to make today a good one before it, too, slips into the past.I don't think you can read a nonfiction book by Gladys Taber without mention of lilacs in May. And really, around here lilacs come up in most conversations, and we put up pictures on Instagram and Facebook. We can't help it. Every year is like the first time we've ever seen them. My first May here on the blog has a post titled Lilac Time. I went out today in the light warm rain and took pictures of all our lilacs.
The lilacs are the stars now, just as the day lilies will be later. The dark ones on the L in the second picture were my mother's. We brought them out here 37 years ago. The ones that I showed in that May 2007 post are now gone. They were in the pasture and were destroyed over the years by all the animals. When Tom cut them down a few years ago, he cut them to a couple feet above the ground, thinking he would get back to the job and cut more, but we found out that the sheep love to scratch themselves on those small trunks, so naturally we left them there.
Gladys has a lovely description.
A single lilac flower is one of the most perfect of God's creations - the little star with its four points and the translucent color and the heavenly scent.
Gladys ends with
The white light of the moon falls on the blossoming fruit trees, on the sleeping meadows, on the far dark of the hills. All's well at Stillmeadow in the lovely May night.
When I am wakeful, I like to listen to the stillness of the hours after midnight. The very wings of peace fold over our valley. I can feel how good the world is, and how unnatural it is for mankind to be so ridden with fear and hate. We are all born into the same world, we breathe the same air, that miraculous envelope wrapped round our small planet, we are nourished on the same fare of food and water, and we are one in death at the end.
Seeing this is so, we are communally bound together. We are brothers whether we like it or not! And every time we invent a nice new buzz bomb or jet rocket, it is our own whom we prepare to destroy.
The moon is wiser, for she sheds equal light over the hills of Judea and the silvered meadows outside my New England window.These are words as meaningful now as all those years ago.