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Friday, May 28, 2010

1/3, 1/3, 1/3…

The Valley in May

It is TJ short pants out in the Valley today. First day of the Year of Our Lord 2010 that my bare legs and knobby knees have dared brave the elements outside their ratty sweat pants. Gladys, too, seems to appreciate the lighter load.

Werkhovens’ field corn has sprouted. Feathery shoots line the furrows by the thousands, each new plant sprouts at a precise distance from its neighbor shoot. It’s as if the fields were planted using a ruler, one seed at a time. The field, in this modern age, is a New cornstudy in agricultural perfection: corn rows of real corn. Baby silage.

The title for this post was inspired by Richard Brautigan’s short story of the same title. Brautigan’s tale has to do with a division of labor for which each participant receives a one-third payment: a forty-two year old retired logger will write a novel; his girlfriend will edit the literary efforts of its author who has only a fourth grade education; and Brautigan, the only partner of the trio who has a typewriter, will receive the final third of the royalties for typing the manuscript. 1/3, 1/3,1/3

My experience in thirds, however, has nothing to do with Twentieth Century experimental novels, nor does it concern a division of labor. Mine is a story of strawberries and diminished returns.

As I pedal past Ed’s strawberry field where this year’s crop hang like green pebbles from the flower stems, I think of my own strawberry experiences. Strawberries Twice have I decided to diversify my crops in the home garden by adding strawberries to the mix. Several years ago I bought strawberry plants from Tony Broer, the Valley’s master berry man. I had prepared some ground for a large patch, enough for nine rows of berries. A labor of love it was to separate each new plant from the wrapped bundle of its dormant fellows, trowel out a scoop of soil, and snug the dirt  around the roots up to the crown. I remember Tony’s concern for the new berry farmer to the east, how he walked across the fields to where I labored away on my knees setting the plants. He showed me an easier, faster way to do the job: use a stob to punch a hole, lay the roots in the depression, kick in dirt, stomp it down and move on. In no time I had nine rows planted  .

As far as strawberry cultivation goes, planting is the least of one’s labors. Then the real work begins: trying to get a crop of the blessed things. I found myself down on my knees doing obeisance to the plants, freeing them from the strangle of weeds. It was an aggravating form of genuflection and had to be performed two or three times during the growing season. And when the plants were dormant, in our mild clime the weeds weren’t; they kept growing, a tip of the iceberg thing: a few leaves on top, root systems stretching for China beneath. When I should have been snuggling up to the woodstove, I was out in the cold on weed patrol,  yanking weeds with my right hand, swiping my nose with the left.

Then came spring and my first crop was on the vine. The weeding continued while I waited for the first ripe berry, the sweet fruit of my labors, to ripen in the patch. I have my doubts whether I was the first to taste the sweetness of that berry. I strongly suspect a robin’s beak enjoyed the first bite. His subsequent chirrup of delight signaled every fellow from Clan Cock Robin within earshot.

My battle with the weeds was immediately enjoined on a different front with a different enemy. ( Just one row of strawberries, Rachel Carson, and your “silent spring” would have been filled with the hubbub from a throng of marauding robins.) I soon learned of the cunning that lurked in that bob, bob, bobbin’ head. If I was tending row one, R. redbreast was pillaging row nine. If I was puttering about the end of row six, I could count on a feathered varmint gashing fruit at the far end. Sometimes a clever bird would hunker down between rows and gouge away, knowing its gray feathered back was indistinguishable from the soil. Exasperated and hoping to deter the enemy by way of example, I took the shotgun, administered capital punishment to a redbreast, drove a pole in the middle of the patch and dangled the corpse from the top. To my despair another bird quickly replaced the deceased and showing total disrespect for his fellow, perched atop the gibbet from where it could spot the largest, juiciest fruit in the entire patch and then launch himself post haste in that direction, leaving his late cousin swinging in the breeze.

Berry farmer zero, robins 2. At season’s end, before the score climbed further, in frustration I tilled up the entire patch and the following spring planted a row of raspberries in its place.

A half dozen years ago I was again seduced (“fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…”you know the rest) by the fine patch of strawberries Tony cultivated south of his house. The succulent red orbs, an amalgam of Tualco Valley soil and sunshine, heavy sweetness, nestled on a layer of golden straw--a hygienic buffer between berries and soil. A second time I was swept away. I admit a slight uneasiness, however, because of an earlier spring vision I had of a man braving the maelstrom of the elements, stooped by cold, methodically pulling a hoe back and forth between strawberry plants, a vision blurred by the warmth of the woodstove I huddled by. It was Tony the berry man, of course.

This time it was only three rows. I thought the straw was a nice touch. I broke and spread a couple bales to keep the ripening berries from the earth. Then deja vu. The descendants of the pole swinging robin descended on the patch by day. But this second time around they had competition. At night slugs, big slimy ones, oozed out of the nearby hedge. Under the cover of darkness they wrapped themselves around their prey, devoured the flesh, leaving only seed peppered skins and a cup-like ghost of the berry that was. Nighttime vigils, flashlight and garden clippers in hand, ensued. But the twenty-four hours’ competition overwhelmed me. The Valley robins and slugs reigned supreme. It was back to the raspberries again.

Robins, 1/3 share, slugs, 1/3 share—and a meager 1/4 portion for this frustrated berry farmer. (The math…I know…let the robins and slugs battle it out for the balance). Now in strawberry season I go down the road to Kurt’s vegetable stand--looking over my shoulder the whole time to make sure I’m not being followed.

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Tualco Fields the Poppies Grow…

Among the chickweed row on row…

Green Valley

Swallows and their kin rule the Valley skies today. Violet-greens, tree swallows, barn swallows, and a “swoop” of black swifts (Cypseloides niger) are aloft, breakfasting on the insect bounty of the Valley. It is difficult to distinguish the flight of violet-greens from the tree swallows unless they fly close enough to reveal their markings. Barn swallows aren’t a problem: they of the longer, forked tails. The swift, a swallow’s near kin, is easy to identify by its erratic, seemingly frantic, wing beats and sickle shaped wings. They are infrequent visitors to the Valley and for some reason choose to show themselves mostly during unsettled weather, which, perhaps, stirs up more bugs. Because it’s not often I see them, whenever I do, I always devote a few moments of watching time.

It’s been a few days since I visited the Valley. The weather, which has “dissed” May lately, is one reason. A bum knee is the other—or maybe it’s a trick knee that’s bummed me out. Because of the knee I’ve opted for low impact exercise this morning. That would be peddling Gladys. Low impact on the knees; much higher impact on the behind.

As we swing by the flower fields, I feel like I’m riding past a landscape painting from the school of Impressionist Art. In the morning light the fields are daubed with hot colors, splashes of reds and oranges, bursts of brilliant color that would “impress” any painter to heat up his pallet. These hotspots are poppies, huge ones, and since I have left my easel behind, I decide to digitize them for this post. I suppose they will be gathered up for cut flowers, but I always thought poppy blooms were too short lived to pump up a bouquet. Perhaps these giant poppies have a longer vase life? Don’t know about that, but these bright color balls certainly announce their presence here in the flower fields.In Tualco Fields..


T. Poppy 


Red Poppy

Of course our Valley poppies presage Memorial Day when the Veterans’ of Foreign Wars will take their posts in strategic places and peddle their  poppies for a worthy, charitable cause: aid and assistance for our Nation’s veterans. These artificial poppies, for those who aren’t aware, were inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” composed by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Wild poppies bloom among the crosses in that WWI cemetery in Belgium, and what the VFW’s artificial poppies lack in size, true color and vitality, they make up for in symbol, reminders for us to honor and remember those who have given their lives for God and Country on the battlefields around the world.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Roll Out the Barrell’s

The Valley in May

Need barrell’s for a steel ensemble band? Want to shoot fish in a barrell?Or have a barrellful of laughs? Roll out the barrell, maybe? If so, Mr. Marty, the Barrell Man, is your go-to guy.


barrell's for sale

My old trash barrell had more holes in it than a Goldman Sachs CEO’s testimony before Congress. I needed a new barrell because as metal barrell’s go, mine was like a see-through blouse but with none of its appeal, basically holes held together by rust. A night blaze in the metal drumm looked like an aerial view of the magma flows at Mauna Loa. Now that we’re entering the annual two month dry spell in Western Washington, I was afraid my trash barrell might present a fire hazard. In these environmentally sensitive times, outdoor trash burning is only a smoky memory (and memory, mine in particular, is the first thing to go). That my barrell spontaneously combusts from time to time is just one of those strange mysteries of physics.

It might seem odd for to wax nostalgic over a trash barrell, but I do. Saturdays and barrell’s were a part of life growing up on the apple orchard along the Columbia River. Two barrell’s sat just beyond our backdoor porch at the house on the river: one for food wastes; the other, burnable trash. (The one and only time a fire truck came to our house on the river was when brother Kevin, whose chore was to set the trash barrell on fire, tried to set the dog’s leather cushion ablaze. When it didn’t ignite, Kevin returned the cushion to the back porch where it smoldered  away and nearly caught the porch on fire. Ah, the nostalgia….) The work week was five and a half days. Saturday, the half day, was garbage day. The garbage detail, strange as it seems, was a welcome break from five straight days of the same orchard task monotony. A chosen pair would tractor a trailer around the camp, pick up the full barrell’s, and replace them with empty ones for the week to come.

In those days the camp had a communal dump. Located on the brink of a canyon, it served our little community for years. When the husks and shells of human consumption heaped on the level, a worker would take the D-2 Cat and bulldoze the pile over the lip of the canyon where it spilled down the bank with a clatter. The dump was a wonderful playground for a kid, a place to improve your rock throwing aim, or sharpen your slingshot skills on the discarded tin cans and glassware. The dump in summers was where we hunted lizards which sunned themselves amid the rusty cans and other junk. They were too swift to catch, but we never ceased trying. And you could fling large pieces of debris over the bank and listen to the destruction it caused as it bounced and crashed down the slope of garbage. The dump was a place  where you could shatter jars and bottles with impunity—a great satisfaction to a kid. Once a hapless skunk rummaged its head into in a jam jar. No one was about to come to its rescue either. We never learned its fate.

Environmental agencies put an end to open dumps. An orchard now grows in place of that old dump, now sadly a venue for work, no longer for play. First the garbage dumps, then the playground monkey bars: yet another conspiracy against kids and their play.

The Barrell Man runs a thriving little business in the Valley and in this age of plastic, metal barrell’s are a precious commodity. A barrell from the Barrell Man once cost a mere five dollars. Then the price rose to eight dollars. (In the photo of the stack of barrell’s, note the back of the sign on the pole.) Now in these inflationary times a barrell will set you back ten bucks. An increase due most likely to the price of paint for signage, extra outlay necessary for the additional “L” and superfluous apostroThe Barrell Manphe on the sign, although this is conjecture on my part. The Barrell Man’s stock comes from surplus barrell’s his son-in-law obtains via Cadman and from the Pure Foods store in Sultan. I browse the inventory and select a bright blue barrell from assorted colors in the pile. I ignore brown. (My replacement barrell will be brown soon enough.)roll out the barrell's  I just happen to drive up when the Barrell Man is unloading more stock. I load my new barrell and hand over the ten spot. For your convenience a special mailbox will receive your cash if the Barrell Man is not on hand to take it. If no one is about, just place the money @$10.00 per item in the mailbox, then raise the flag to ring up thePay here sale. It’s nice to see the honor system alive and well in the Valley. Take note, however, the Barrell Man does not allow a Senior discount. And a word to the wise, honor system aside, don’t try to shoplift the merchandise or sneak a barrell out under the cover of darkness. 

Big Brother


If you want to have a barrell of fun, expect to pay for it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Seed ‘em and Reap…

“…like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth.”

William Faulkner, As I Lay DyingThe Valley in May

My apologies for this post’s title. When my students were about to get up close and personal with Shakespeare, I would prep them for  the Bard’s famous word play. Each day I would begin the class with “Pun o’ the Day”and the kids would commence groaning even before the pun was outed. I believe the title pun came from a reader board at a farm supply store. Now feel free to groan after the fact. That’s the way, after all, a pun is supposed to work.

Puns aside, the Valley is going to seed. Fields are planted, being planted, or being prepared for planting. Yet again Werkhovens have their corn in ahead of me. Seeded to corn Turn your back for a couple of days and they have two hundred acres of corn planted. My old beekeeping friend Lester Broughton planted his corn without fail May twelfth, more regular than the Farmers’ Almanac. I tried to match his schedule but never seemed to measure up. Les is gone now, and I have been using the Werkhovens as my corn planting mentors. And again, I just can’t seem to measure up.

Planting is in full stride in the Valley. After all, as Tualco potato farmer Peter Alden stated, the Valley is prime berry and vegetable farmland, the best in the state. Kelly Bolles has planted strawberries in the field east of his high rise.  Raspberry starts sprout in the northeast corner of the field opposite Tony’s place, new production, I suppose, to replGrain drillsace the marionberries that froze out last winter. Werkhovens are finishing up seeding in the field north of Frohning Road. 

And I see Brett De Vries has had his garden rototilled. Brett had talked about moving the garden, but I see he has decided to plant the same old plot. Well, it worked for Jerald and Tina Streutker year after year, Brett. At SR. 203 Gladys and I pull up behind Kurt Biderbost’s vintage pickup truck. The entire bed is loaded with pumpkin and squash starts, plantings for the field by his vegetable stand. Everyone is planting, it seems, and Gladys and I are out gallivanting around in the midst of it.

Truth be known, I’m not all that complacent. Yesterday, May twelfth, I planted my first row of corn, dent corn for this fall’s first ever venture into hominy. And today I planted my first row of sweet corn. I may not be a Broughton or a Werkhoven, but come September we’ll not lack for fresh corn fritters .

Come into the garden, it’s the early month of  May.

Come into the garden; I know you’ll want to stay.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gladys Gets a Make-over


Gladys,The Valley in May if anyone, ought to believe in serendipity.  Thursday I took the Toyota into Courtesy Tire to replace the old tires George said would do me until last fall. About an hour I was told for the installation and balancing. An hour to kill…I decided to stop in at the used bookstore on Main Street. I browsed around for forty-five minutes or so until, as the owner told me when I went to pay, “Something jumped off the shelf at you, huh?”During my short stay there I hadn’t noticed anything that seemed the slightest bit inclined to budge unless it was the owner’s black cat or her three-year old son who was at odds with a toy truck. (By the volume of the controversy the Big Wheel truck was the declared winner of Round One.)

What I “pulled” from the shelf was a book by Eliot Wigginton, the founder of the Foxfire series, a real  bargain at four bucks. Wigginton taught high school English in Southern Appalachia back in the late ‘60’s and came up with the idea of having his students do a hands on project involving local culture, handicraft, and folklore. Students were to venture out into the hills and hollers of Appalachia and engage the hills people in the project by requesting they be taught the skills, customs, and folklore, the history of the region. When the interviews and filming were done, students would take what they learned, compile the information in book form and publish their work. A good way to teach communication skills and connect with the hills community at the same time. Thus the Foxfire books were born. If you wanted to build yourself a cabin, fashion and use a froe to split roof shingles, find and dig ginseng root, card and spin your own wool, pluck and gut a chicken, or scare yourself to death by reading stories about “hants” and”boogers,” the Foxfire books helped you out. I was only interested in reading about the experiences of another English teacher, so I purchased the book, and before anything else jumped off the shelf at me, I headed back to Courtesy Tire.

The truck was still on the rack when I returned. The new tires were mounted and installed. That was the good news. Then I learned I was the victim of the auto shop domino effect that so often comes into play with auto repairs: fix one thing, two more problems crop up. The shocks are shot, oil completely leaked from one. And George tells me I only have about 10K left on the front brakes. It’s an overnighter for the Toyota. Courtesy of Courtesy Tire owner Larry gives me a ride home.When the truck is ready tomorrow, I’ll get a call.

About 10:30 the next morning the call came. No round trip courtesy, so I saddle up Gladys and off we huff and puff to town. We rattle to a stop in front of the shop where Larry and Chris are sunning themselves in the doorway. “Did you ride that all the way in on 203?” Larry asks. “Yes, just the two of us, Gladys and I,” I reply. I lean Gladys on her kickstand and Larry comes to look her over. Larry is a history buff and antiquities excite him. He is quite taken with Gladys, I can tell, but why not: she does have her fetching ways. “Wow, this is one old bike,” he says as he checks Gladys’s wheels for wood. “What is she? vintage ‘60’s? Early ‘70’s?” I’m uncomfortable discussing a lady’s age in front of her, and I say so. We defer to female vanity, decide on the conventional twenty-nine years, and move on.

Larry tells me the bike shop in town does tune-ups for $75.00. That piques my interest. Gladys sorely needs a tune-up, among other attentions. I settle up for the truck repairs but can’t seem to dismiss the tune-up idea for Gladys. “Seventy-five bucks for a tune-up?” That’s money well-spent, I think, and tell Larry so. At this point serendipity intervenes. Larry says, “It’d only take about ten minutes and Gladys could be a changed woman.” Ten minutes for Gladys? I’d gladly devote an hour to that gal. “She’s yours,” I say, knowing Larry will be gentle with her.

Once Larry gets started, he seems inspired, and Gladys, I’m happy to say, gets the full Monty. If there were an invoice print-out for Gladys’s service, here’s how it would read:

Seat adjustment: no charge

chain adjustment: no charge

chain lube: no charge

kickstand adjustment: no charge 

shift cable adjustment: no charge

parts: lock washer: no charge

de-greaser: no charge

power washing: no charge

labor (of love): now who would charge for this?

Gladys is a new woman thanks to Larry aBrad and Georgend the guys at Courtesy Tire. The next day I take her out for a test drive. Under Larry’s skillful hand, Gladys’s asthmatic wheezing has disappeared.


 Larry and Chris

I did notice a new rattle or two, however. But they sounded like happy rattles.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Valley in Lilac Time…


Dare not assume Spring—

March and April are just numbered squares

On a calendar,

And I have seen forsythia

Hiss and smolder beneath sodden snow.

Yet the lavender delays.


Assume not too much--

The crocus does not baffle frost,

And beneath its fur the willow shivers.

Yet the fragrance defers.


Do not assume the date--

The swallow cluster clenching bitter wire

Is only bluster.

And sunflowers and buttercups

Just sycophants of the sunny south.

Yet the purple pendants pause.


Then one warm day

Again the patent is unpent upon the air

And calls the gardener to his furrow.

The purple buds unfold--

And unassuming, the lilac blooms.


Lilacs bloom in the Valley. The gnarled tree by Van Hulle’s driveway flowers again. Lilacs at Jim Werkhoven’s. More at the rustic little house by the upper bridge over Riley Slough. Valley lilacs A bush blooms at 19220 Tualco Road. Another in the Meeus’s yard. White lilacs at the Grange. And in our yard lilacs blossom as well.

Years ago when I instructed Junior High students in the Language Arts, I told my colleague Laurie Sharpe that lilacs were my favorite flower and fragrance. One day not long after, I entered my classroom and found a bouquet of lilacs adorning my desk.

[Tip: To give a bouquet of lilacs staying power, slightly crush the stems before you put them in the vase.] Lilac bouquet

For the next two or three years sometime in May the lilacs would appear. Later in the month I would retaliate with a bundle of bearded iris. Laurie, I never told you the “why” about the lilacs, did I? I never told you about the lilac pie.

Of our five wits, the olfactory sense is the most powerful trigger of memory. And when I’m in the vicinity of a blooming lilac—especially on a warm May day—my memory succumbs to the heady fragrance and carries me back to my teenage years.

She was a redheaded girl and classmate…long auburn hair that glinted copper in the sunlight. And of fair complexion, as is often the case with those of the the red haired persuasion; her skin and the sun had an adversarial relationship. The years have clouded the particulars of the initial stages of our teenage crush, but I know in the spring of our sophomore year we were more than friends. For some unknown reason in our Junior year the redheaded girl’s parents sent her to a Catholic school in Spokane. Thus began a nearly all-consuming correspondence, especially the next spring when it seemed every day our letters crossed paths. I told the redheaded girl of my love for lilacs. Afterwards, to fuel our passion, she would sprinkle lilac water on her cursive protestations of love before she posted them.

In those days our communal mailbox was a wooden apple box nailed to the cookhouse wall. That spring I was in a rush to check the mail and collect her letter of the day. I would immediately bring the envelope to my nose and breathe in redheaded love until I reached our own dooryard where a lilac bloomed as well.

One day in lilac time I received a package in the mail, a white box hatbox size, yet not as deep, a gift from the redheaded girl in the Lilac City. I rushed home to open it. When I lifted the lid, I was nearly overcome by fragrance. Inside was a wreath of lilacs. Among the lavender blossoms and heart-shaped leaves was a note that said: “I hope you like your lilac pie. Love, The Redheaded Girl.”I will never receive another such pie, a gift freighted with pure fragrance—and so much more. But one lilac pie is enough for a lifetime, I think.

As with most teenage romances the redheaded girl and I went our separate ways. All that remains of those times are youthful memories—and my devotion to lilacs.

(That redheaded girl? I still have her letters, each written in a feminine script on crinkly onion skin sheets. A while back I took them out—it was lilac time,of course—held one to my nose, dared hope some wisp of fragrance still lingered from those lilac days.)

And “…yet the lilac with its mastering odor holds me.”

Walt Whitman: “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Let’s Go a-Maying…

There’s not a budding boy or girl this day

But is got up and gone to bring in May.

From “Corinna’s going a-Maying

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

 Spring Hay

May First, May Day in the Tualco Valley. If poet Herrick and his sweet Corinna could fast forward to the Valley today, they would be in for quite a drenching. It’s like the weather gods have confused April First with this day a month later-- as if there were such a thing as a May First joke.

Around noon the clouds thin just enough for Gladys and me slosh around the Tualco Loop with the top down. (Gladys’s top is always down,of course.) The outing will be my only exercise this May Day as the tradition of prancing around a decorated pole is nearly a defunct ritual in these enlightened times—certainly is here in the Valley. I believe the May Pole celebration is more a European and British tradition than ‘tis stateside. The faux Bavarian town of Leavenworth boasts a May Pole in the community square, and I’m sure it will see action today. I don’t in the least begrudge the Leavenworthers their May Day gaiety (polarity, perhaps?) and wish I was present to watch the town’s comely lasses weave their way around the pole. Truth be known, however, on this day of ushering in the May, I’m thankful there’s a mountain range between me and all that accordion music.

While I’m not inclined to exhume my beverage-stained lederhosen and schottische around the flag pole out front, I am about to practice a May Day ritual that’s been performed in this household since the late 1970’s. Back in those days when I was doing battle in the trenches at Snohomish High School, teaching English as a foreign language to the native speakers of it, I had as a student a delightful young Welsh girl. Gwyneth Arianwen Myrick was her name. Gwyneth was May personified, spirited, dimpled, rosy cheeked, blue-eyed, a blessing to have in class. On May First that year, Gwynnie approached me after class and asked, “Are you going to give your wife a May basket today?” I hadn’t planned on it, I told her. Hadn’t ever done so before. “You should, you know,” she scolded. And I did and have been doing so every May Day since.

In those days my May baskets came from the florist’s. I would order them a few days in advance, pick them up May First, and daughter Marika would do the honors: place the basket on the front porch, ring the doorbell, and dash around to the rear of the house where I would let her in. In the meantime Mom would open the door to find nothing there but a basket of colorful spring posies. Sometimes-- if she had forgotten the date-- she would honestly be surprised.

Several years later I took an adult evening class to learn the art of basket weaving. (Yes, such classes do exist.) The class was coed. My presence made it so: I was the only man there. I applied the skills I learned in the course to craft my own basket, one constructed of all natural materials, most of which I collected from our yard and thereabouts: grapevines, filbert withes, the tendril branches of Alaska cedar. The “gods eyes” I fashioned from husks of corn from last year’s harvest. Strips of willow and cedar bark filled in the gaps. That basket has become our all-purpose holiday basket. Pots of poinsettias fill it during the Christmas season; later, around Easter time, the basket brims with spring primroses; and come May Day, it blooms yet basketIn recent years I have filled the basket with flowers from the yard, a customized arrangement, I’m sorry to say, more inclined to color than style. (I have yet to take a flower arranging class, coed or otherwise!) There have been years, however, when the yard was florally deprived due to a late spring. Then off to the florist’s I would go, taking along the holiday basket with instructions to fill it with spring color and have it ready for me pick up on May Day.

This May Day the yard  is in bloom and   a variety of blossoms and color are available, enough to fill the little holiday basket to the brim.

Now that Marika and Avi have their own home, I’m the one who must ring the doorbell, stumble around the side of the house, and and try to make the effort a surprise. But it is a tradition I delight in, for it is a way to bring May indoors. It is, of sorts, a floral nostalgia, reminding me of little Gwynnie, reminding me, too of those wonderful days when we had a child in the house to ring the doorbell and dash away.

About three hours from now the doorbell will ring announcing a basket of flowers on the doorstep and the same someone who has done so for years will open the door, feign surprise, and “fetch in May.”  May Basket '10