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“Notes from the May Day Train,” Cambridge, MA

by Jane Winans, from Notes from the Train
(used by permission)

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Leaping in the air: Nathaniel Diamond-Jones (by Jane Winans)

I was photographing Newtowne Morris this morning. (Muddy River and Red Herring were also there but I didn’t see them dance.) It was pouring rain and in this one dance by the Charles River you can see the Maypole falling, it actually started to tip over but was caught before it hit the ground.  The men never missed a step and kept on dancing. :)

I am a writer who is writing a book called Notes from The Train;  this is what I wrote about this morning:

Notes from the May Day Train: Oh the Merry merry month of May. “I was up, long before the day-o, to welcome in the summer, to welcome in the May-o….” As per tradition, I stood along the banks of the Charles River at the foot bridge in Cambridge to watch the Morris Dancers dance and sing in the May. The Maypole was listing as buckets of rain fell steadily creating bigger and bigger puddles. But this did not stop the dance, nor the singing, nor the merriment. Morris Dancers are made of strong stuff and know they have a job to do.

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Tilting Maypole (by Jane Winans)

At one point in the dance, the Maypole started to slide and was caught in the nick of time before it touched the ground. It made me wonder, what would happen if it DID touch the ground? Would that mean we’d never have good weather again? Without blinking the men continued their dance as someone held the pole in place. Then we all paraded across Memorial Drive to the center of Harvard Square and started the Maypole dance. I noticed a tour gathering off to my side where tourists were getting instructions on where to meet up. Turned out they were all from China. I met the eyes of one couple and exclaimed, “Aren’t you lucky that you get to see Morris Dancers on the 1st of May. If you see them dance, you will have a Year and a Day of good luck. It’s a tradition out of England.” They smiled and nodded at me as they took out their camera… the next thing I know we were a few people short on dancing the Maypole. I went over and asked them to join in. The wife jumped in and grabbed a ribbon and as we bobbed and weaved, up down, up down, I ran into three more Chinese women who had also joined in our dance… all giggling and laughing as they turned, up and over, up and over…. to the music.

Only one couple on that entire bus knew English and it was the one I had originally talked to. She was an English teacher so I got her to translate to others what luck they had stumbled upon. Many pictures were taken, hands shook and even hugs given out as people greeted each other with “Merry May!” Then the traditional songs were sung all before 8 a.m.

I grabbed a large hot coffee, and juggling my rainbow umbrella, my phone and my gloves (yes, it was a very cold morning)… I had stuck a $20 bill in my pocket with my car keys, so I was trying to get them out and the $20 must have gone flying. I realized once I got to work that it was gone. Perhaps someone needed it more than me. When I got to work, I remembered that one of my young coworkers walked that same route to the T station. When he showed up, I asked, “You didn’t happen to find a soggy $20 bill on the sidewalk in Harvard Square this morning did you?” He looked at me curiously. “No.” So I explained my morning, showed him the pictures and sighed. “Perhaps the Faeries wanted it” and he said “Or it was payment for service to the Green Man.” I grinned: “Green Man payment for services?” and he turned red and exclaimed “Oh, Dear!!! Oh dear!” Poor guy got flustered very easy and I could tell that really wasn’t what he meant. As I walked down the hall, I could still hear him saying, “Oh dear!” I just smiled and went back to my desk.
If my $20 assures us of a good spring and summer, it will be well worth it!

Sing with me now: “Unite and Unite, oh let us Unite, for Summer is a coming today…. and wither we are going, let us unite, in the merry merry month of May….” Blessings to all.

© 2014 Jane Winans; please do not copy without permission of the author, sing2trees@yahoo.com.

 

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