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May Day Reflections for the Gardener

By Charlyn Ellis

Tags: Pacific Northwest, spring, garden planning, Oregon, Charlyn Ellis,


It’s Sunday morning, May Day, a pause in the week and the month. For right now, the world is perfect.

The solar panels are reving up for another Personal Best day of production (we have only had them through the dark times of winter); everything that can be transplanted  has been; the winter cabbage seed has been planted; I have finally trimmed the camellia, which always needs to be done after every other tree in the yard because of bloom time.

Both bee hives are bustling and the swarm hive is no longer holding camp outs on the hive box because of lack of room inside. All of the laundry is done and dancing on the lines in a morning breeze. The woad is blooming.


These days are rare. Between work, vegetable gardening, bee keeping, meetings, potlucks and art retreats, Cat Worship, and trying to take some long walks somewhere other than in town, my life is full and scheduled.

I usually see all that has to be done — the mowing and trimming, the paint bubbles, the dirty floor, the fence that needs repairing after the ancient willow came down – rather than what has been accomplished. I feel more like every action requires a judgment, a list of pros and cons, rather than a simple yes, we can do that, right now.

Although I love my life, in all of its complexity, sunny Sunday mornings with a cup of tea are a rare gift to be celebrated.


One of the chickens has laid an egg, as she does almost every day. All three are cheering — loudly — at this accomplishment. Maybe I need to be more like chickens, celebrating every day small accomplishments — hey, we mowed the lawn! — rather than looking towards the future of work every moment of the day.

So today, Labor Day in much of the world, I will sit back and enjoy the fruits of all of my labors, rather than making a long list of chores to be done. It is, after all, May.

Charlyn Ellis has been growing vegetables since she was five years old, when her mother bought her her first rake and pitchfork. She and her family are urban homesteaders and have a large organic vegetable garden, fruit trees, a beehive, four chickens, one rabbit, and two cats on a small urban lot in the center of town, surrounded by college students. Charlyn considers permaculture principles when she makes changes in her designs, especially the idea that the problem is the solution. Find her online at 21st Street Urban Homestead, and read all of Charlyn's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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