Happy May 1! Today is a national holiday in France and much like a Federal holiday in the US, government offices are closed as well as the museums, most stores and many cafes. It is France’s version of Labor Day, so there will likely be marches and parades, but mostly it is reserved as a day for family and friends. It is traditional to give small bouquets of lily-of-the-valley (“Muguet” is the French word for this beloved flower)to loved ones to wish them good luck.
If you are Paris on May 1 (as I was a few years ago), you’ll see people selling the bouquets from buckets on street corners and the floral shops will have tables set up with mountains of bouquets as well as live plants for sale. If the weather cooperates, the parks will be full of parents and children playing, people strolling or relaxing in the green park chairs. When I returned to my hotel that evening when I was in Paris on May 1, the maids had left a small bouquet of lily-of-the-valley on the bed for me, their sweet scent welcoming me back. It is a lovely and relaxed holiday.
The lily-of-the-valley in these photos are from my own garden, picked just last night. They are very early this year (as are most of the plants and flowers this spring) – I usually don’t have any until mid-May. They are probably my favorite floral scent and I love the tiny delicate individual flower bells. The plants can be invasive and many people try to eradicate or control them, but I’ve encouraged mine (and added to them!) and let them run wild on the north side of the house. Every spring I’m glad I did.
As you may have noticed, I’ve been absent from this space for a bit. Too be honest, the past few weeks haven’t been all that great. Work has been stressful (in the way that we call it “work” and not “play” or “messing about in the garden”!). Also, one of my best friends at work just announced her retirement and while we’ll still see each other, it won’t be the same.
But the worst is that I had to have one of my cats, Izzy (who I wrote about here) put to sleep on April 1. It was time, she was in kidney failure and had lived a long and (I hope) happy life and this decision had been coming for some time. It is the last promise that you make to that tiny, adorable kitten now fulfilled, that you will ease them out of this life when it’s time. I miss her – she was my lap cat and always at the door to meet me – but it was the right thing to do. I’ll bury her ashes in the garden soon (when it dries out a bit – we’ve had a lot of rain lately), among the flowers and birds and creatures she loved to watch and where she will now always be part of the things I love.