Friday, 15 May 2009

UnderRated: The Month of May

"Ne'er cast a clout 'til May is out"

According to the Phrase Finder, the earliest citation of 'N'er cast a clout till May be out' (never discard your warm winter clothing until the end of the month of May) is the version of the rhyme, Gnornologia(1732) from Dr Thomas Fuller: 'Leave not off a clout till May be out'; although it probably existed by word-of-mouth since at least the early 15th century.

It probably referred to the blossom of the Hawthorn tree which was once known simply as 'May' and comes in various stunning shades, rather than the month itself.

Add that to the colourful hues of the many varieties of flowering cherries blooming locally, which range from almost cerise all the way through to the palest of pinks, plus a large number of types of large and small-flowered clematis and you will understand my assertion that May is the best month for being outside, even if you do sometimes need a cardy.

The last few days of beautifully warm sunshine, truncated suddenly by rather more inclement conditions, reminds me of how much I love this time of year. It is so unpredictable, with the possibility of the occasional rogue April shower or a blustery gale, followed the next day by temperatures soaring into the high twenties or, perhaps, the more usual wet, damp drizzle that precedes an English summer of more of the same.

I got married in early May on a very warm day. They say that the sun always shines on the righteous and that this weather predicted a happy future for both of us. *Insert your own suitable expletive here*

Anne Boleyn was both crowned in May and then executed almost exactly three years later. Most films about her life show her stopping to admire a sprig of hawthorne as she walked to both events and whispering: 'The Month is May'.

Perhaps it's not the luckiest of months but it's certainly a beautiful one and no less appreciated, especially when the breeze gets up and you are surrounded by a blizzard of sweet smelling blossoms.

And, over here in the UK, it has the added bonus of containing two bank holidays. What's not to like about two extra days off in the space of one month?


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5 comments:

TROLL Y2K said...

Sounds pretty nice. The first day of Summer usually occurs during May in Troll County. There's a precise metric for it.

The first 24 hour period where the daytime high is 89-F and the nighttime low 72-F.

The 89-F can occur in January, but BOTH need to occur to trigger the big changes in wind-patterns and precipitation.

Polar said...

Very Lovely insight.
We have lived in the same town for 27 yrs. about 5 yrs ago our accountant put it in perspective:
"there is No Reason to be around here from the end of the Iditarod (mid March) until Mother's Day (mid May). During this time we have Breakup, brown and ugly. Then in the course of a week, the buds Burst fourth, and the whole countryside will Green up.
Here at work can be different. We still had some snow fall everyday this past week.

having my cake said...

Troll - To get daytime highs of 89-F is considered a heatwave over here :)

Polar - I have a friend who is currently cruising in Alaska. She says it's freezing!!!

Loving Annie said...

Cake,
Were those pictures from the gardens at Hever ?

I didn't know there was Hawthorne growing in The Tower Green - more poetic license from the filmakers !
Poor girl. Henry was SUCH a putz. Such a shame he wasn't capable of giving her a son - she lost her life only because of that. JERK.
She never cheated on him, he just lied - grrr ! Still make me mad, even almost 400 years after the fact !

Got the smaller probe in the mail yesterday, and will try it tonight :)

Hope that you have a good weekend.

having my cake said...

Annie, Not Hever, no. Just generic from the web. I searched for a picture showing hawthorn on Tower Green but couldnt find anything.

There was a programme by Dr David Starkey recently called Mind of a Tyrant. I think it's still available on 4OD if you can get that. Well worth watching if you like anything Henry VIII :)