Thursday, May 01, 2008

May Day

I have always loved May Day. Spring is my favorite time of year, and the tiny town in which I grew up had a community May Day festival on the Sunday closest to the first of May every year. It was held on private land, but everyone was welcome. There was always delicious food being sold, and a brass Dixie-style band with a bunch of old men playing instruments, people dancing, pony rides for little kids, and tons of games suitable for kids of all ages. There would always be ice cream or popsicles available if it happened to be a hot day, and sometime in the late afternoon, the volunteer fire department would bring their trucks and hoses and have a stand-off with the volunteer fire department with the next town over, using their hoses to try to force a giant ball on a wire over to the other side.

And oh, to be a third grader, because third grade meant you learned how to dance the May Pole dance. I looked forward to that honor for YEARS, imagining what I might wear, how my hair would be done, and what color ribbon I'd get to dance with. It was always my favorite part of May Day, even better than watching the firemen prove their masculinity, girls whirling pretty colored skirts amongst boys in their dressy finery, all dancing to the same music every year, and by the end of the dance the Maypole was dressed in its finery as well. Girls also got to wear wreaths of flowers made by a community member, with ribbons hanging down the back. I couldn't wait to wear one.

Third grade came eventually (actually, sooner for me than most because I skipped second) and we spent recesses in April learning how to do the May Pole dance. We started with the steps and order of the dance, learning how to dance around one another, and moved on to holding thin ropes stemming from the top of a regular pole. By the end of April we were practicing with actual ribbons, and we'd all memorized our parts. It became a very important thing that year to determine which color ribbon one would have - the most prized colors being pinks and purples for girls, and the boys desperately hoping they wouldn't end up with a girl color. In my heart of hearts I didn't care what color I got - I was just excited to get to participate - but of course I joined in with the rest of the girls, moaning about how the world would end if I got an ugly color.

May Day finally arrived that year. It was 1987 and I had recently turned eight years old. I wore a pretty blouse and skirt, and I got to pick out a flower wreath for my hair, and I cannot for the life of me remember what color ribbon I ended up with. I remember performing the dance, and seeing how beautiful the pole looked afterward, a rainbow of colors woven together. It turned out the buildup to the event was far more significant than the event itself; I had a good time, but I didn't even feel any sort of a letdown afterward, and after the pole was danced I probably got some food and went over to watch the Battle of the Shirtless Firemen.

As I've mentioned many times, Colorado's weather can be mighty unpredictable, especially in the spring. For the past week or so it's been relatively warm and nice, with a bit of snow last weekend while the sun was out (an oddity in itself). Yesterday was sunny and then overcast, but warm all day long. Today it is snowing. This morning, it was snowing large ploofs, cotton balls falling from the sky, as I lay on the (new! comfy!) couch and looked out the window. I'm not sick, but I had an accident at the gym yesterday that left me with a (probably pulled/strained, possibly torn) calf muscle that has put me out of commission. At the time, it felt like someone had punched me in the leg with a heavy hand weight. I felt a snap or pop sensation, and then searing pain. I got a charlie horse in the same leg in the same class last week and thought it a fluke, but I guess my leg hadn't fully recovered. This time it's making me stay down. Someone from the gym gave me a ride home after I hobbled around for a while in tears because it hurt so bad, because I was angry at my leg for betraying me, because I knew if I sat down it might make the leg worse. But eventually I knew it would be best if I went home and put it up and iced it. I couldn't walk, I scared the cats when I got home still in tears and ambulating like quasimodo. Three advil, some ice, and a few hours of rest later, it was still painful to the touch or when I moved it, but not constant agony.

This morning as I gingerly tested my leg's abilities, I determined that I'd rather stay off it for a whole day, giving it a chance to rest and recover, so I'm more likely to be able to walk on Saturday. There's an event I need to be able to walk around all day for, and if I'd gotten up and tried to walk to work/home/etc. today, the leg would have given me what for. So today I am lazy, relaxing on the couch, watching nerd movies and glancing at the wet snow hurtling itself down from the sky. Twenty-one years later, I am not dancing on this May Day. Maybe next year.

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