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The Many Meanings of May

June 3, 2011

I don’t like May as much as I like April. Part of that is that while there’s a lot blooming in May, there are a lot of flowers dying as well.

May means the end of daffodils and tulips and all those other spring bulbs.

May is also exhausting.

May means running, running, running all day, from customer to customer, from plant to plant, like bees on a caffeine high.

May means working overtime every day. Talking until I’m dizzy from hyperventilating – ‘Surfinias are right back there, do you need a box to put them in? Fifty wax begonias, certainly, what colour would you like. Those are the green zucchini, yellow zucchini, squash, cucumbers – oh, sorry, seems we’re out of cucumbers, let me fetch more from the greenhouse! Twenty lettuce plants, certainly, sir, would you like butterhead or crisphead? Certainly we’ll plant your window boxes for you, will that be for a sunny place or a shady one?’ Talking, talking, talking non-stop all day long, always friendly, always cheerful, even while I fantasize about strangling particularly obnoxious customers, talking, talking, talking, to five people at once, talking until I’m hoarse.

May means the Nettle Nest degrading into utter chaos, no time to clean, to water, to cook, no strength left to meet with friends.

May means slowing down at last, not so much because the customers get fewer but because we simply can’t run any more, can’t talk to three people at once any more, can’t do maths in our heads any more, can’t think any more… during the down times, the daily lunchtime lull, the rainy days, when we finally don’t have to run any more, our brains decide to go on vacation altogether, and we’ll walk into the shop and suddenly stop and look around in confusion, stride briskly into a greenhouse, shake our head and walk back out because we were actually headed somewhere else and just forgot along the way…

But May also means the promise of summer, the promise of rest… late May brings the first summer days, with sunshine and heat, with sandals, shorts, T-shirt sleeves pushed up, a wet bandana on my head, the smell of sunscreen, snacking on strawberries from the hanging baskets we haven’t sold yet….

May means the ‘sreee-sreee-sreee!’ of the swifts as they fly past, and even after all those years, they bring with them memories of lazy days at school, windows open, waiting for the end of term, watching the swifts circle outside…

May means the heavy smells of white-flowering shrubs, of elderflower and hawthorn, privet, firethorn and mock-orange…

May means garlands of wild roses in the hedges, the bright red of the field poppies, meadows full of oxeye daisies…

May means no time to take pictures of all these beautiful things…

May means longing to travel, to wander around enjoying the beauty…

May means thinking back to the trips I made, when I still had time to travel in May…

Day trip to San Marino during a business trip to Cervia, Italy, in 2007... I didn't take any good pictures...

The Carpenter Brother's school trip to Worthing, England, in 2008... I was too busy herding teenagers to take many pictures of gardens.

Marburg botanical garden during my trip to Germany in 2008 - I certainly took a lot of pictures during that trip!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2011 01:55

    How sad is it that this made me miss working retail?

  2. June 4, 2011 11:25

    Much as I hate it sometimes, I’d probably miss it as well… I still sometimes miss school, even though I know it wasn’t nearly as much fun as it seems in memories, and I’d hate it if I had to go back!

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