May is a month I have always eagerly anticipated. Green is my favourite colour, and at last our yards, our parks, and our countryside are carpeted in the vivid hue of perennial grass. Budding leaves are upon the barren branches of the deciduous trees, and wild flowers are blooming. May is a month of spring, and it’s perhaps one of the most beautiful of the year when most of the snow and ice have disappeared and hot temperatures have yet to arrive. Henry David Thoreau once described spring as “an experience in immortality.”
May is named after the Greek goddess Maia, who is identified with the Roman era goddess of fertility, Bono Dea. The earliest history of Mother’s Day dates back to the ancient annual spring festival that the Greeks dedicated to their maternal goddesses. Still, we can thank our current celebration of Mother’s Day, on the second Sunday in May, to the United Kingdom, where “Mothering Sunday” was observed as long ago as the 1600s. May has two birth flowers; Lily of the Valley is the most commonly known. Its birthstone is the emerald, which symbolizes success and love. I consider it so appropriate that this precious bright-green stone represents a month when we honour mothers around the world, and when, in our hemisphere, the earth truly reawakens.
I received an email while penning this newsletter, and it gave me pause to wonder what my ancestors might have experienced during their first spring in Canada. They had arrived late in the fall of 1892, the weather was already turning cold, and they wintered in a dugout on the side of one of the precious few hills to be found on the bald Saskatchewan prairie. Imagine, if you will, two families with four adults and nine children, the youngest of whom was my one-year-old grandfather, living in a soddie covered with thickly rooted prairie grass, no windows, and one makeshift door. And, without the slightest awareness of when the snow would cease to fall, the air would warm and spring would arrive. The balmy, greening month of May must have felt majestic.
For me, the majesty of May arises from my anticipation of our annual sojourn to the Kimberley Riverside Campground nestled in the pristine St. Mary River Valley, towered by the splendid Rocky Mountains. My husband and I spend our two weeks in a recreational vehicle that far exceeds the size and, by light-years, the comfort of the shelter recessed into a hillside occupied by 13 people for the duration of our long Canadian prairie winter. Thank you, Tracy, Grade IV Social Studies teacher, for prompting me to reevaluate my perspective. Your comment—“Wow! Arriving: 1909-1919 is definitely an accurate portrayal of what life was like for the early settler.”—reminded me of the tremendous gratitude we owe our pioneers.
Mothers, have a wonderful day on May 10th (also my daughter’s birthday). To all, I wish a majestic month of May.