My sister and I delivered May baskets. Ages eight and five, we were homeschooled then, with plenty of time on our pudgy hands. Our suburbs, far outside of Minneapolis, offered acre-long, rectangular lawns with tiny houses planted in the centers. Flowers bloomed everywhere and nobody had sidewalks or even fences out front.
We glued construction paper into a cone, the way mom thought she remembered doing, looped ribbon around the top and filled the cone with flowers from nearby yards. Mostly dandelions, maybe a tulip, a few apple blossoms from our tree and one of mom’s tiger lilies, which she’d planted all around the house and didn’t even like. Behind our house lay open acres of the park, where violets and bluebells poked up beneath the trees. When the cone bulged with blooms, we sneaked to Ms. White’s house (she was our favorite), hung the cone on the door knob, rung the bell and raced pell mell for a hiding spot. We loved to watch neighbors’ exclamations of surprise and happiness as they received their flowers.
We deliveries until we’d given one to each neighbor, and one to Mom, too.
I remember spending most of May Day giddy with delight, and I’ve passed this flower-delivery tradition on to my kids. Eight and 10 now, they’re likely on the cusp of giving it up, but I don’t want to see it go!
Last year, a late spring snow covered the flower bulbs my kids planned to use in their baskets, the tulip and daffodil stems sagging and water logged. We taped flowers painstakingly scissored from beautiful calendar pages onto pipe cleaners, added some beautiful, rooster tail feathers, and formed truly unique bouquets. One even featured miniature paper airplanes for a neighbor’s small boy peering over the top. In the rain, the kids headed out at 8:30am, armed with a tub of creative bouquets. Route planned in advance, they raced up and down the two nearby streets, ninjas of surprise.
One by one, neighbors stopped by to ask about the baskets, and as the kids feigned surprise, and holding a hand over their grins.
This year, I’ll be buying a bouquet from the supermarket to round out our flower offerings, because of another set of snow storms, and to attempt to hold this tradition for one more year. The yard is filling with dandelions, and I can hardly wait to see what the baskets become.