Bolton’s Babblings: The Marvelous Month of May

“How about a Maypole dance?”

My Skype connection to Whitehorse was adequate at best, so Peter Jickling’s response seemed reasonable.


“You know, cute kids in their fresh white shirts and smocked dresses, garlands of daisies in the girls’ hair as they dance around the Maypole. Who can resist a cute-kid pic, right?”


Damn, the line was bad that morning. I was trying to pitch photo ideas for our May 1 cover, but the editorial eminence whose Jabberings usually grace these pages just wasn’t getting it.

“Could be a great shot. All those coloured ribbons making swirly patterns as the kids weave in and out around the Maypole.”

A long pause ensued before He Who Must Be Obeyed spoke again.

“What is a maypole?”

Now, let me make it perfectly clear. HWMBO is a bright and learned chap, but he’s a mere sprat, relatively speaking. His all-seasons probably have at least four decades less wear than mine.

Still, I’m sure he knows much about May.

He definitely knows May means flowers after April’s showers. He probably realizes the most auspicious time to plant a garden is during the dark of the moon in May.

Undoubtedly, he knows everything there is to know about mayflies (which often sleep in until June) and may trees (whose delicate white blossoms look much better than they smell).

I’m certain he could tell you the Mayflower set sail from Portsmouth in 1609 with 102 Pilgrim passengers, and that lovable Sheriff Andy Taylor was most-respected man in Mayberry.

He might even be aware that many Canadians affectionately refer to the weekend of Queen Victoria’s birthday as “the May Two-Four”. Not because of the royal nativity so much as the promise of a long weekend at the cottage with a couple of dozen Molson’s.

Admittedly, Peter may not share my intemperate fondness for the marvelous month of May (my birthstone just happens to be the emerald).

But not to know about the rich tradition of the Maypole? Fie and for shame.

I gently suggested that a quick Google search (or, as they say in our other official language, « on peut googler ça ») might yield a convincing case for putting a maypole dance on this week’s cover.

Alas, such a cover was not to be. Turns out it’s harder to find a crowd of laughing kids twirling around a schoolyard Maypole in the Yukon than it would be to find a dozen hairy-kneed Morris-dancers, for example.

Pity, that. May is a splendid month, full of soft days and burgeoning colours. A month to celebrate the rebirth of the land. A month of…

“Hey! How about a crocus?”

The Skype connection was obviously more clear now.

“Good idea,” Peter replied. “Let’s go with a crocus.”

And so this week’s beautiful cover came to pass.

Still, some wistful part of me clings to the hope that by 2022, the next time May Day falls on publication day, this magazine’s photographer will have no shortage of Maypole dances to shoot.

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