May Day

Presenting the Tree Dancing around the May Polepaella         May Day dinner table

We have had a really fun and busy week here at the farm.  As we’ve prepped beds and bought starts we’ve also been blessed by a bounty of visitors. Our friends Sowmya, Walker, Becky and Dinah from Olympia were here and we enjoyed the chance to visit with them.

Yesterday was May Day, and it inspired an international celebration of Spring, planting and friendship.  May Day is still a national holiday here in honor of workers, and though we worked during the day we celebrated at night.  The local carabinieri (military police, like the gendarme) started it all a few weeks back by asking if they could come up and eat paella with us.  The idea of paella and the beautiful weather inspired a whole crew of other visitors and we spent the day counting seedling for planting this week (905 pea starts! 222 squash!), touring the farm, and mixing traditions.

Our long term intern at the moment, Monika, is from Hungary and she described how on May 1st young men from the village harvest a tree and bring it to the house of a woman, strung up with wine glasses to jingle in the wind and get her attention.  She mentioned as she described this tradition that because her father had scared off the tree bearers for her 2 older sisters, she’d never been offered a tree.  Interestingly enough, in parts of Italy here there’s a similar tradition of harvesting a tree and placing it in the public square.  Typically the trees they use here are up to a hundred feet tall.  All this talk of trees and setting them up in the piazza made me think of May poles….. so we decided to make a bit of a combined celebration.

First, we harvested a tree from the farm (a invasive species we have to clear anyway) and decorated it with flowers, ribbons and the Hungarian flag.  We set it up in front of Monika’s apartment, and the picture here is her reaction as she saw it the first time.  Then we had and amazing dinner of paella at the long table you see set up here.  It’s amazing how everyone sits and eats together here, even including the police who we’re used to seeing in uniform.  In the end, we convinced almost everybody, most especially the police, to dance around the May pole. The pictures are a bit grainy but we dance around a fire clapping and dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire on the boom box.  We wove in all the good intentions for fertility, bounty and luck in the coming year and we’ll set up the tree in our field in the next few days.