Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blessings of May

May I make my fond excuses for the lateness of the hour,
but we accept your invitation, and we bring you Beltane's flower.
For the May Day is the great day, sung along the old straight track.
And those who ancient lines did ley will heed the song that calls them back.
Pass the word and pass the lady, pass the plate to all who hunger.
Pass the wit of ancient wisdom, pass the cup of cri
mson wonder!!!
Cup of Wonder, Jethro Tull

We rose before dawn this morning for our annual pilgrimage to High Park to welcome in the first of May. It was a perfect morning; a hint of chill still in the air, a deep pink sunrise and the rain held off long enough for the song and dance festivities to take place. Being Sunday, no one was rushing off to work this year so there was time after for a leisurely breakfast and a walk through the woods.

The woods were full of wonders this morning, including an appearance by the fabled white squirrel!
The May Queen, perhaps?

As we traipsed through the forest, we gathered willow branches to make wreaths, from limbs felled in the recent windstorms.

We also picked some garlic mustard for pesto and foraged for fiddleheads, of which we were fortunate to find plenty! We followed sound foraging techniques even still; picked only from a patch that was very plentiful, plucked no more than one fiddlehead per clump and left far more than we gathered.

A caution for those who aren't familiar with them, fiddleheads should be washed thoroughly and never eaten raw. Some sources suggest boiling them and draining the water twice- I have never found this to be necessary but if you have a sensitive stomach you might want to take the extra step. After a good rinsing, I prefer to saute them in a bit of butter and eat them plain but they are wonderful in pasta dishes and can be substituted in any dish that calls for asparagus.

Wandering through a thicket of forsythia, we eventually stumbled onto the historical gardens of the original homestead, Colborne Lodge. The vegetable gardens are all but empty for now, except for some rhubarb and over wintered onions and garlic.

The floral gardens are already in full bloom and we were awed by the variety of spring bulbs that are lovingly planted by the park staff, including this beauty which I believe is a variety of tulip!

On a nearby hillside we discovered a mass of lilies as well; it was still too early in the season for flowers but we'll have to try to find our way back in time to see them in bloom. And in a week or so the cherry trees will be in blossom, so today's meander through the woods was hopefully just the first of many to come.

Blessed Beltane to you and yours! May your gardens be lush and fertile this year!


  1. Sounds like a productive day! :)

    I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never had fiddleheads.

  2. They are delish! Since they are foraged rather than grown and only available for a short time in the spring, they can be expensive so it was great to be able to pick some close to home! Last year I even pickled some!

  3. Great post! Those nice bulbs are fritillaria. Happy May Day!

  4. is that a field of lily of the valley?!?
    that must smell heavenly when they're in bloom - where is that field?!?

  5. Sarah, thanks for the info- it's so pretty!

    ellieT - the hill is right behind Colborne Lodge in High Park and I think it's likely just a large patch of orange day lilies (aka tiger lilies, or as my mom calls them, 'ditch lilies'). In any case it's bound to look spectacular when they bloom!

  6. Looks like you had a wonderful May Day! O those fiddle heads look great, I will need to get out this weekend and have a hunt for some in our area as well, I have a certain area of the woods that they are super plentiful.

    Amazing on the white Squirrel, I was lucky enough once to see a White Raven,they are considered very awake and there.

    But my favorite raven of all time was the big old guy up in Iqaluit, who's name was Kru-plunk, he clearly liked to play with stones and water, and had learned to make the very sound of a rock falling and then plunking into water. I used to give him extra bits during those cold hard winters up north as a trade for his company.

    Blessings Be..