I have loved seeing the posts on Facebook of all the people celebrating Beltane – lots of pics of woodlands strewn with bluebells. Glastonbury looked awesome. Did I wish I was there? Yes. Why wasn’t I? Well, it’s the whole disability thing isn’t it.
Was I jealous? No. Seeing the celebrations and the clear enjoyment of those taking part brought a smile to my face. Was I wistful? A bit, but I celebrated in a way that was compatible with my mobility problems, and enjoyed it just the same.
One tradition that I have followed for quite a while is to get up early on Beltane morning and head outside to bathe my face in the morning dew, so that was the plan. And Mayday this year coincided with International Dawn Chorus Day. I would usually have listened to the birds in the early morning, fascinated, but knowing I was joining together with many others doing the same added a little something special.
My five year old grandson stayed overnight. I explained to him that we would be getting up really early in the morning and going outside. He thought that sounded like fun – until I attempted to wake him up at 5am. Two little eyes peered at me from the edge of the duvet, then disappeared under the bedding. A quick reminder of what we were about to do sparked him into action, especially when I wrapped a blanket round him to ward off the cold.
My daughter was with me, so the three of us headed into the garden in our pyjamas. We listened to the birds singing against the background noise of the motorway. The song was not diminished; if anything it left us in awe that nature could overcome the disturbance and flourish.
We hit an unexpected and unusual problem. There was no dew. As you may know, I have no grass in my garden but usually there is moisture on the bushes. Perhaps we needed to check lower to the ground.
Our neighbour’s grass was bone dry. By now we were in front of our house, on the street, still in our pyjamas. We walked a short way to the entrance to our local fields. (I can’t get into the fields to walk as the ground is very uneven.) No dew to be found.
We returned home and into the back garden, still listening to bird song. I formed a May crown from short branches twisted into a circle. My grandson delightedly wore the crown while we picked a dandelion head full of seed, making wishes as we blew the seeds into the air. For him it was a typical bit of childhood fun; for me it was a reminder of Beltane as a festival of fertility, of renewal, of the cycle of life continuing.
The chill of the morning started to make itself felt despite the blanket. Back indoors we warmed up with hot chocolate and a biscuit. As our cups emptied and our biscuits disappeared, it started to rain – gentle droplets moistening leaves and making them shine in the growing light.
We went outside in the rain, the drops tickling as they slid down our faces and found their way down our necks. We ran our hands through the now damp leaves of the largest bush and bathed our faces in the captured rain. Not dew, but a close second.
Once dry, the little lad crawled back under the duvet and slept.
NB I asked Mr Google where the dew had gone. Apparently we couldn’t have had the correct weather conditions in my location for dew to occur. (I am obviously destined not to be beautiful and youthful this year!)
Portland Jones – disability liaison for Pagan Federation Midlands