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The month of May: flowers bloom with the morning dew, roots uprooted in the noon

If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.–Audra Foveo

The month of May is a special one for me in that my birthday along with mother’s day occurs in said month. I also get to play dress up for a major annual gala event I attend and somewhat host.  This year I stunned in a goddess like ensemble (from hairstyle, to dress, to shoes) in commemoration of the fact that the month May was named for the Greek goddess Maia, who was identified with the Roman goddess of fertility.  Not that I am a big proponent of fertility. Been there, done that. I have traveled cross country (coast to coast) four times now, all in the month of May. It’s been a month of celebration and exploration and adventure.  Did you know that no other month begins or ends on the same day of the week as May in any year? What an odd month.

But for the majority of my past birthdays it’s been more rain than sunshine.  Currently, Mid-way through the month of May and the sunshine has been playing a cat and mouse game with us. A few years back on my birthday, bin laden was captured and killed. There was wide jubilation through the streets of New York City, but it seemed slightly odd to be so festively celebrating someone’s death. Back in the year 1536, Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England, was beheaded for adultery, treason, and incest. In no apparent relation to that historical event, the month of May has been designated Mental Health Awareness Month and also as national masturbation month. We also recognize the month of May as National Military Appreciation Month to honor the US armed forces. What an odd month, indeed.

Back in the 1960s, before my birth, two iconic events occurred in May that still impact us to this day. In 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang “happy birthday” to us President John F. Kennedy making it so that it is now creepy to sing to a sitting US President. And back in 1963, the New York Post published something of actual value:  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, advocating for civil rights and an end to segregation. The month of May had had its lows and highs as it prepares us for summer heat and summer laziness. The month of May is hard work that can bear much fruit or at least emeralds. Forget diamonds. This girl’s best friends are gems, they tend to go better with my skin tone.

I love my birth month, but it surely brings with it a set of contrasting emotions, events and thoughts. May was once considered a bad luck month to get married. There is a poem that says “Marry in May and you’ll rue the day“.   Yet, the old Anglo-Saxon name for May was Tri-Milchi, the “month of three milkings” referring to a time when the cows could be milked three times a day because of the lushness of the grass. While it is a month of lushness and fertility, being born in May was thought to produce a sickly child. Recent research tends to bear that out. For example, research (Ramagopalan, et al., 2013) shows that babies born in May have lower levels of vitamin D in their blood at birth, and more circulating immune cells, than do babies born in November. And although huge amounts of dust gather in the month of May, old superstitions warn that one should never buy a broom in May or wash blankets.  It is a time when flowers emerge and crops begin to sprout. And of course, when I am in a constant sleepy mode due to the enormous amounts of Benadryl I must ingest in order to kill off the allergies. But at the same time the chirping of the birds, the flower blooms make one wistful and contemplative with winter a barely-remembered moment in time.

The recently heavily lauded rock band Arcade Fire has a song called “the month of may” that seems to capture every well the erratic nature of the month of May

Wanna make a record how I felt then
When we stood outside in the month of May
And watched the violent wind blow the wires away

May is typically the month in which most tornadoes occur, followed by June. And is currently in the news,  tornadoes take no prisoners. The record for most tornadoes in any month (since record keeping began in 1950) was set in May 2003, with 543 tornadoes confirmed. The United States has averaged 1,274 tornadoes per year throughout the last decade.  On May 3, 1999, there was an Oklahoma City tornado, that ended up being the (inflation adjusted) biggest property damage tornado in U.S. history. As a bit of side information, States with the lowest incidence of tornadoes (total number, 1950–2004) have been: Alaska, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Vermont.  What’s the common denominator there? Talk about contrasts. Tornadoes are most often spawned by giant thunderstorms known as “supercells” that form when warm, moist air along the ground rushes upward, meeting cooler, drier air. Tornadoes, thus, seem to encompass perfectly what the month of May is all about.

The month of May is a study in contrasts. Beauty and destruction.  Serenity, lushness and catastrophic damage.

If you are curious about possible local tornadic activity, you can go check out this website: http://www.weather.com/news/tornado-central/tornado-risk-by-month-20130315

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