The Promise of May (May 3)

When we first moved to the village in which we’ve lived for the past ten years, people who didn’t know me called me ‘the lady who walks’. Well, I don’t mind being labelled as such because, quite honestly, it suits me.  I do walk a lot, simply because I can’t bear being cooped up indoors. There’s so much to see out there, and every day is different; every month even more so. Besides, it keeps me fit and, hopefully, young. (Fat chance of that considering that I had my 70th birthday last month. Notice I didn’t say celebrated my birthday! How is getting old something to celebrate? 😦 On the other hand, I got some seriously nice prezzies).

And now it’s May, and the rest of spring has still to unfold before the summer ahead. So what does the onset of May bring to mind for you? This will obviously depend on which part of the world you live in and which season you’re about to embark upon. Here in the UK, it’s SPRING! Glorious Spring… the month of promise.

These are some of the photos I’ve taken over the first few days of May. They are of our garden and from around and about the village:

The photos of the sparrowhawk were taken two days ago through the glass of our conservatory, so apologies for the fuzzy look. He was gorging himself on a blackbird when we spotted him, and if we’d opened a door or window he would have rapidly skidaddled.

As for returning migratory birds, our house martins returned to their usual nesting place beneath our eaves a few weeks ago…

… and there are plenty of swallows about. But I haven’t yet heard a cuckoo, and often they arrive before the end of April. (In May and June they sing their tune.) I expect to hear the familiar call any day now. I wrote about the egg-laying habits of the cuckoo last year, here.

What else does May bring to mind?

For me, May will always make me think of Robin of Sherwood, the TV series filmed in the ’80s. To me and our two daughters, it was the best Robin Hood production ever. Michael Praed and Judi Trott were wonderful as Robin and Marion and the rest of the cast were also superb. The series was made even more poignant by the awesome music of Clannad.

Here’s a short YouTube clip of the first time Robin set eyes on Marion:

Did you spot the line… You’re like a May morning?  Marion’s youthfulness fits perfectly with the idea of freshness and beginnings. This is the rest of the little bit of dialogue, which seems to have been cut from that video version:

Robin: You’re like a May morning. Stay here in Sherwood and be my May Queen.
Marion: In Sherwood? And be your May queen? But what will I be when winter comes?
Robin: I’d build a fire at the cave’s mouth, wrap you in sheepskin, and hold you close.

More snippets about May…

  • May was named after the Greek goddess Maia. It was a time of great celebration in the northern hemisphere; the time when flowers and crops emerged. Before 1430, May was called Maius. Meyes or Mai.
  •  The Anglo-Saxon name for May was Tri-Milchi, which referred to the new lush grasses that allowed milking of cows to be three times a day.
  • On the 1st of May in days long past, young girls would rush out and wash their faces in dew. It was thought that May dew had magical properties: anyone who washed their face in it would have a beautiful complexion all year round. It also removed freckles, spots and pimples. (Sounds like good stuff!)
  • People born in May are said to be loving and practical
  •  The zodiac signs for May are Taurus until May 20 and Gemini from May 21 onwards.
  • May’s birthstone is the emerald (emblematic of love and success) and also chrysophase in the UK.
  • In the U.S. and in many countries around the world, Mother’s Day in is May (May 14 this year, I believe). In the U.K. we celebrate that day in March.
  • May 1st is May Day in many countries and celebrated in a variety of ways, which I wrote about here. The day is also International Workers Day worldwide.

And here are some well known quotes about May:

  1. Among the changing months, May stands confest The sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed.  – James Thomso
  2. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May – William Shakespeare
  3. Sweet April showers do spring May flowers – Thomas Tusser

To finish with, here’s a video of an old song, Now is the Month of Maying, written by Thomas Morely in 1595. It has been recorded by a number of choirs and singing groups and this one was uploaded to YouTube by Ana Pachero. It features The Kings Singers.

And now, after three posts about it, I’ll leave May alone and have a think about my next post about Cornwall.

25 thoughts on “The Promise of May (May 3)

  1. Beautiful post,d ear Millie… Great photographs!!!! 😉 I didn´t know that May was named after the Greek goddess Maia!: Good to learn that…
    In Argentina, we celebrate Mother´s day in October (the thrid sunday of october!)… However Father´s day is the same day than in the US…. Oddities here and there, riht!? 😀
    Wishing you a wonderful May!. Love. 😉

    1. I didn’t know May was named after the goddess Maia either, Aquileana, until I started looking up facts about May. It was interesting to learn that. Nor did I know that Mother’s Day was in October in Argentina, although I knew there were several countries that didn’t celebrate it in May. In the UK, Mothers’ Day has been in March for centurues! 🙂
      Hugs and wishes for a wonderful May, too. 😀

  2. You live in a seriously beautiful village Millie, I’d love to go visit one of those old English villages where the gardens appear to have been there for hundreds of years….next Sunday down here is Mother’s day….I’ll buy several bunches of chrysanthemums and take them to the cemetery for my mother and grandmother. Nowadays I am the only one who visits, even though mine is only an annual visit, my mu lives on in my heart….this year will be 34 years since she died.

    1. Most English villages have houses that date back hundreds of years, Michael, although they have new-builds, too. Our church here dates back to the 11th century, and is very pretty. But village life has its drawbacks, especially the smaller ones, like ours. We have no amenities here at all, other than the church, and have to go down to Collingham (a much bigger village) for any shopping we need in the week. Fortunately, it’s only a couple of miles away.
      Mother’s Day must be very poignant for you, and I’m sorry you lost your mum so early in your life. I know how it feels because my dad died when I was in my 30s, and that hit me for six. Your gesture of taking chrysanthemums to the cemetery every year is lovely.
      Thank you for your lovely comment, Michael.

      1. Chrysanthemums have become our Mother’s Day flower. On the weekend they will be for sale everywhere including outside the major cemeteries. I was wondering about the amenities in those little villages. Like is there a K-Mart or a Woolworths?

  3. Oh my, Millie, your post has made me jealous. We’re in Paris where the high will be 14°C, and heading to Helsinki where the high will be 7°C. Your garden looks wonderful and the history is fascinating.

    1. Well, Peggy, you have no need to be jealous of temperatures here at the moment. This morning it was 11°C and this afternoon it was 15, and the wind-chill made it seem much colder. It’s so changeable here, and we’ve had little sunshine for a few days now. We just have to live with it. I should think Paris is under the influence of the same pressure systems too. Just take your furs with you to Helsinki and enjoy the lovely sites.

    1. Thank you! I’m no photographer (although I envy those who are!) but I love to snap the things I see in everyday life. I’ll pop over to your blog asap.

    1. Most of Britain is lush, Courtney, simply because we have a lot of rain! But as you say, spring is lovely, wherever you are. As for walking… I couldn’t spend a day without it.

    2. Most of Britain looks lush to people from much warmer places, simply because we have so much rain – most of which is carried to us on the SW winds that blow over the Atlantic. The rain may make the landscape lovely and green, but it can really spoil a nice day out at times. We never know what to expect from one day to the next. I’m sure North Carolina has some stunning scenery. And thank you for the birthday wishes! 😀

    1. There are several great songs by Clannad throughout this series, Ali, and most are hard to get out of your head once you’ve heard them. I don’t suppose ear plugs would be of much use….? 🙂

  4. May, beautiful May, especially in English villages, they are so cute, I adore them, though I have never seen them in reality, only in pictures and films. You post make me feel so good, you have a very beautiful season!

    1. Thank you, Ann. I know from your posts that May is lovely in the Ulraine, too. It really is a wonderful time of year and it makes me just want to be outside, walking. Enjoy your beautiful May as well.

  5. I love your May facts and quotes Millie! I know you didn’t ‘celebrate,’ but I hope you had a wonderful birthday! Such a lovely post!

    1. I had a lovely birthday, Antonia. It’s not often nowadays that we manage to see so many of the family all at the same time! Even our youngest son, Chris, whose job takes him round the world, managed to get here. So I suppose I did celebrate in that way. It’s the ageing bit I object to. Birthdays would be fabulous without that part. 😀

  6. What a fun compilation of May facts — now I wish I’d gone out and washed in dew on May 1st, I could really use a bit of that magic! I loved the clip about Robin and Marian –I’ve never seen that version, and I can see why you like it.

  7. Hi Joy. Here I am, running late with my replies, as I seem to be too often lately. I really liked the ‘fact’ about washing the face in dew and I suppose it’s typical of old beliefs. Right now, I’m wondering whether May Day dew would work its magic on wrinkles. 🙂
    Robin of Sherwood became cult status worldwide in the 1980s, Joy, and continued to be popular after Michael Praed was ‘killed off’ and replaced by Robin Mark 2, in the form of Jason Connery. The writer, Richard Carpenter, worked the ‘change’ into the story really well – Praed and Connery were not the same character. Praed’s Robin Hood was based on the legend that has him as Robin of Loxley, a poor miller’s son, whereas Connery played the lordly Robert of Huntingdon. Even now I can’t watch the episode in which the first Robin dies without blubbing like an idiot. The emotions of Marion and Robin’s men really get to me.
    My elder daughter bought all the videos in 1990, when she went to uni. Later, she and Louise bought the DVDs – which we still sit and watch when the mood takes us.
    Ooh, long reply… Have a great weekend. I’ll pop onto your blog as soon as I can. 🙂

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