Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy 1st of May!

The Lily-of-the-Valley is blooming in my garden, another plant that originally came from my parents' garden. And before that garden, my Mom grew it in each of the other two homes they lived in, back to the childhood home I remember it best in. It's always been a special flower to me, being the flower that graces May birthdays . . . my flower, the muguet des bois. Mom would generally pick a little bouquet to decorate my table setting at the birthday meal -- and for my 21st birthday, she gave me a sweet little white Coalport china vase, just the perfect size for 5 or 6 slim stems.

Today, all over Paris, vendors will be selling bouquets of this flower, May Day being the only day there is no tax on selling flowers, a tradition I have read was meant to allow the poor to garner a few francs by harvesting these delicate wild-growing blooms. (apparently, the rules governing these street sales dictate that the flowers should be grown wild, picked without roots, sold unpackaged and sold at least 40 metres from a florist shop). I haven't been able to find a source to verify that intention of helping the poor, but certainly the flower is strongly associated now with Labour Day in France, and it is also exchanged widely as a sign of friendship all over France today. Any time we've been in Paris within a few days of May Day, we've been approached by street vendors, often gypsies, with small bundles of the fragrant flower, offered for a Euro or two each. Lovely to take back to cheer up a hotel room or apartment. I suspect Madame Lè-bas is breathing in their sweet air right now!

I wonder if my son Zach and daughter-in-law Joey will notice any when they land in Paris on Friday morning.  They may well be too jet-lagged, but I wish them a fragrant bloom or two to grace their first view of the Seine. . .

Meanwhile, we're celebrating the May sunshine with a visiting dog and a visiting granddaughter -- they're having much fun together, but they do require an energetic Nana and Granddad . . . so I'll leave you to your May Labours -- may they be happy!

21 comments:

  1. I planted some bulbs this spring and hope to see the delicate muguet de bois bloom in my own garden next year. How lovely to have "your" flower, blooming for your birthday, with memories of birthdays past accompanying the sprigs.
    Happy May Day!

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    1. You'll have to let me know, next year, if those bulbs produce -- they're a great plant for naturalizing. Mine have taken over a small swath and they're welcome to spread further. Isn't our May beginning wonderfully?!

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  2. Yes, I bought a bouquet of muguets and lilacs from a Romani. The apartment smells lovely. I love les muguets de bois and at home I have a small Beleek vase for mine. I love Paris on May 1. There will still be muguets left on Friday because I just talked to my brother in Chilliwack who came on the 3rd of May last year and remembered the little bouquets.

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    1. Ah, they would suit a Beleek vase beautifully --- I'm wondering, now, where my Beleek creamer is. I broke its sugar mate, but I could use the creamer as a vase -- I love the creamy translucence of that china!

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  3. We used to grow muguets in our garden and bring bouquets to our French friends when we lived in Toronto. And I was married once, so long ago, on May 1. I thought it would be spring then, in Northern Ontario, but there were wedding photos of us with champagne bottles stuck in the snow.

    What a sweet and personal touch from your mother, who was a certainly busy woman. An example.

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    1. You have some special memories of May 1st muguet as well, then.
      As I suppose often happens, I'm appreciating more and more of what my Mother left me, in so many ways. . .

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  6. I picked a bouquet too!
    They are so lovely...please post a photo of your Coalport vase and the flowers.

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    1. Coming up . . . I've already posted our little visiting dog, as per your request. I'll get that little vase snapped for you as well!

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  7. I haven't been able to grow muguets. I think it must be too dry here. I consider them 'my' flowers too. When I was a child we lived overseas and my birthday always featured lily of the valley too. Happy birthday from one May baby to another.

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    1. Happy Birthday to you as well! Didn't we get born in a perfect month?!
      The spot my lilies-of-the-valley are in is very dry during the summer, but plenty wet during the winter.

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  8. I never knew that lilies of the valley were May Day flowers. Thank you for the little present:).

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  13. Muguets de bois are my flower, too, being a May baby myself. I remember having a little vase of them on the breakfast table on my birthday growing up, and as a "tween" I wore Coty's perfume of the same name -- probably my first real fragrance.

    I also remember singing a round in Girl Scouts that went, "White coral bells upon a silver stalk, lilies of the valley deck my garden walk. Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring? That will happen only when the fairies sing."

    Thank you for taking me back, dear Mater.

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    1. Another May baby! We're a good crowd, aren't we?
      I never had the Coty's perfume but can picture its packaging.
      And yes! I know that song -- it makes a lovely round!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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