Saturday, May 2, 2015

Arden in May

We first encountered Arden in May six years ago. It really sucks you in. The trees are iridescent green, boisterous in their new foliage. And flowers. It is a gardener's paradise here. Every year I am here, I see new species. Arden has many specimen plants, the kind for which collectors go wild. It is hard for me to discern whether the new things I am noticing are different to me as someone who lived fifty miles north in a slightly different plant zone or if they are rare to everyone.

In May, the warblers are back, bringing the sound that is so nostalgic to me. I am remembering summers at camp most of all. I was a girl scout who went to day camp the week after school left out, but I also went to Lutheran Bible Camp in the Poconos.  Of Lutheran camps in the area, I insisted that my parents send me to the Lutheran camp that was farthest from home. At age eleven, I picked Mt. Luther for the architecture. I wanted to sleep in an A-frame. It is funny how walking around Arden can dredge up memories such as that for me.

I am not the only one who understands the magic that May brings to the villages. Dozens of neighbors went out to the their mailboxes and front doors on May 1st to find small decorative bags filled with flowers. May Day! What other town does that? And May Pole dancing? We didn't have the May Pole this year, but I participated in the ritual in years past, even if it didn't always land on May Day.

Onto May 2nd which is World Labyrinth Day and World Naked Gardening Day. I have not seen any naked gardeners. The rumor of nakedness in Arden is highly overstated. Don't move to this town if you believe the rumors that it is a nudist colony. I keep waiting, but everyone remains clothed. As for the labyrinth--Keri del Tufo and I made a pact on the night we bought their house that we would bring a permanent labyrinth to Arden. Today, we got up early and created a pop-up labyrinth out of flour on the green. It will last until it rains or gets overcome by the dew. Perhaps a day or two at most.  We are working on a proposal to make a more permanent labyrinth for everyone to walk.

After we finished with our civic mischief (gift?), I headed over to the Memorial Gardens where the annual cleanup was already in progress. I would guess that we had forty volunteers from ages 3 to 84 in attendance, beautifying the grounds, weeding and mulching around the graves. Ruth Bean, who gave us our official welcome when we moved to Arden, was the grand marshall. She is the unofficial caretaker of the gardens, as her property butts up against the Memorial Garden.  Families join together to clear the gravesite of their ancestors and loved ones. The best part of helping with the clean-up is all the stories we hear of the deceased, those Ardenites who came before us and lived storied lives. Last year, I had the honor of sprucing up the plots belonging to the Brooks family who lived in our home many decades ago.

As I was working this year, I saw the tiny cottage where Mark and I first stayed that fateful May weekend in 2009. The little house was nestled across the fence from where we were working. It seemed to nod and wink at me, a co-conspirator whose job it was to see that Mark and I landed in Arden. Aching back, I'll admit that I didn't work at the Memorial Garden for more than an hour-and-a half. Then again, many hands do make light work. I took off early with Toby who wanted me to consult on a sign she was making for the G-Arden. The community G-Arden, too, is in high gear. The frost date in Delaware is May 7th. We gardeners are busy, both with the prospect of vegetables come July, but also because the G-Arden is on the House and Garden tour in a couple of weeks. Alex and Clay are busy constructing all sorts of hard structures for the G-Arden. Folks have volunteered to put in the community squash plot and plant the decorative  window boxes that will top the fence.

May will tax me with the job of trying to capture all that is going on in this community as I strive to keep up with all the activities I am doing myself. Tonight, I will head to the final Dinner Gild dinner of the season which is put on by the playground committee. They are serving sliders as they raise money for the new slide. Sliders. Get it? Then, the kitchen will shut down for the renovations for which we have been raising funds for the last year. I must go now and text my daughter to make sure she is back in time to go to the dinner. She has been rollerskating and biking around town today with her boyfriend, Joey.

Already I surrender to May, and it is only the second day.

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