Every Sunday, we went through a religious ritual in our house. All hushed and all unnecessary activity ended. It was the hour for The Wonderful World of Disney. At 7 p.m. all of us, including my mom and dad, waited for that explosion of fireworks and the Disney castle which signaled the show’s opening. The others hoped it would be a movie or a cartoon. I wanted one of the nature documentaries.
You remember those don’t you? The narrator had the greatest folksy faux-texas/colorado accent you could imagine. You instantly trusted anything he said. And it was like he knew those bear cubs or the raccoon family personally.
One of my favorite lines in some of those documentaries was this one that he would croon out: “Springtime came late to the Rockies”.
I’ve lived in those Rockies. And it is true that Spring arrives later there than most habitable places in North America. Spring starts in March in Vancouver, February in Northern California and January 1st in San Diego. But the rule of thumb we had in the mountains of B.C. or Montana was that you didn’t plant your flowering annuals or vegetables until Memorial Day (so you could avoid the last killing frost). When I moved to Sacramento, I asked my neighbor when she planted her bedding plants. “Usually on a Saturday” she answered as she walked away. She kept looking back at me occasionally as she walked to her house, slowly shaking her head.
Obviously she didn’t understand Springtime where I grew up.
May Day, May 1st if you will, was always the harbinger of Spring and then summer for us. But even if it isn’t that for where you grew up, it is still a day of new possibilities. Life is flashing out all around us. Taxes are paid, it isn’t too hot to golf, fish or go for a long hike, the kids can see the end of the school year but they aren’t so antsy as to prevent them from learning the occasional morsel of truth. The only real casualties of May Day are the college students either writing exams or anticipating them.
But you can’t ruin May Day for me; even those years I had exams I loved the promise of this month. Traditionally May is known as the month of music around the world. And I love music. May Day celebrations are often called Music Month celebrations. Even the old Celtic holiday Beltane was dedicated more to music than to anything else. It was the day the old Irish would send out their flocks to the summer pastures to get big and fat. They would send them on their way with music and laughter. What a picture for those of us who follow God. This is a day that could celebrate the sending out of the Flock to pastures outside the safety of our comfort zones.
What can you venture out into today that you enjoy and that will bring the joy of the Lord into your life? That would be a May Day question.
Unfortunately, I looked for songs that celebrate May, and outside of a few celtic ballads, I couldn’t find any. So I opted for the next best thing. I looked at what was on the Hit Parade the May I graduated from High School. Here was the music that tipped the scales on the May Day of my youth. By the way, no one celebrates the coming of May like a graduating High School Senior. In honor of that day, here are the top ten songs of May 1975.
1. Black Water – The Doobie Brothers
2. I’m Not in Love – 10cc
3. Saturday Night – Bay City Rollers
4. Jive Talkin’ – The Bee Gees
5. Get Down Tonight – KC and the Sunshine Band (technically, this is an April song but it was so popular it kept going in May)
6. Have You Never Been Mellow – Olivia Newton-John
7. Laughter in the Rain – Neil Sedaka
8. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – Elton John
9. Thank God I’m a Country Boy – John Denver (yeucchhh)
10. The Boys are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy
In honor of May Day, I went on Rhapsody and loaded these ten songs into today’s long-walk hit parade. I can hardly wait to take the dog out on the run and listen to these old May melodies. I may even listen to John Denver.
What songs were popular in May the year you graduated?
UPDATE: Beltane is also International Labor Day and therefore it would be more than appropriate to just stop working and enjoy the day. Thus saith the Lord.