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May Day In Late Winter?

By James Donahue

The calendar says today is May Day . . . the first day of May. But where we live in Northern Michigan there won’t be any dancing around the May Pole. We are still dealing with the effects of a severe winter with snow piled high along the roads and in our yards. The spring melt is on, however, and the local streams and rivers are flooding their banks, some of the flood levels setting records. The Road Commission is warning drivers not to use certain roads and bridges until the danger is over.

The seasonal birds have at last returned to begin their spring nesting. It is nice to hear the songs of the robins and mourning doves from my window each morning and evening. But they must be as confused as everyone else in our area. There isn’t a tulip, crocus or dandelion to be found under all of the piles of snow.

And to make matters worse, we in the Midwest, from Colorado northeast through Michigan and into Ontario, are bracing today for yet another rain and snow storm attached to yet another cold front dropping down from the far north.

I remember years when I have been mowing grass and planting a garden in April. By now we should be seeing the buds on the trees swelling and preparing to leaf out in spring glory. After all, that is what May Day celebrations in the Northern Hemisphere have always been about. They were a Celtic celebration of the awakening of the sleeping Earth. May 1 on the Georgian Calendar marks a half year from November 1, thus a cross-quarter day long associated with Northern European pagan celebrations.

After all, who can blame the people for wanting to dance in the streets when the warm days of the season finally beat back the chills of the long winter past?

Except it is strangely delayed this year. At least for us in the Midwest and Northeast parts of the United States.

Notice that the storms associated with these almost weekly “fronts” have been especially severe, with hail, high winds and numerous tornadoes. We in the far north have had to deal with mountains of snow but we have so far been spared the damaging wind and rains. Will that be our fate in the weeks ahead?

Call it weather change or global warming….humanity is now paying severely for ignoring the dire warnings of polluting the air, land and water for over a century. For those of you lucky enough to feel the warm sun on your face today….Happy May Day anyway. Enjoy the holiday.