May Baskets 2020 Celebrate Spring During Pandemic

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Life in Annapolis, Maryland USA During the Covid-19 Pandemic- Week #7

No blue ribbons were awarded this year for beautiful May Baskets in Annapolis, Maryland, but that didn’t stop me from making one.

I haven’t made a May Basket in several years, not a real May Basket with colorful ribbons and seasonal flowers. Last year I took a series of photographs of all the beautiful May Baskets on display throughout the City of Annapolis. I even walked across the bridge to Eastport with my dog Chloe, who posed in front of most of those baskets.

I wasn’t in the mood. Our house was for sale. I’d already decluttered, sold and given away my excess possessions.  Knowing it was only a matter of time before we moved, I think I put a potted plant in a basket, not a proper May Basket, on the front step.  Now, we’re living in our “dream house”– the one we’ve been restoring for several years in Murray Hill. To celebrate our first Spring here, I made a May Basket for the occasion. May Baskets are an Annapolis tradition. So what if I don’t have a basket. I used a watering can.

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My daughter Alex gave me the watering can for Mother’s Day many years ago and it makes a good container as do: buckets, tubs, bicycle baskets, tea kettles, hats and during this time of self resilience– just about anything you might have around your house. Ribbons are important because of their association with the May Pole, but balloons, streamers and a colored paper will do. The basket can be hung on the door or gate, set on the stoop or on top of a pedestal. Just put it in the front of your house where it can be seen.

The Garden Club of Old Annapolis Towne started the competition  here in Annapolis, Maryland in 1956 and according to winners I’ve interviewed in the past—a unique basket and local flowers are important components. One lady who won every year, swore to me it was her basket that guaranteed she was a winner. “They just love it’s shape and the way it hangs on the door,” she said. “The flowers and the ribbons are secondary.”

Depending on the weather, May 1st can yield a varying selection of flowers—from lilacs, azaleas, and tulips to iris, roses and creeping phlox. A trip to the supermarket or nursery may provide a larger choice of flowers and colors; but who wants to go to the store?  My husband was kind enough to buy me cut flowers—daisies, mums, and roses—because our garden is just getting established. “You haven’t had flowers in a long time,” he said, “So I thought this would be a good occasion.” And in his defense I will add he bought me the flowers during his regular weekly shopping trip.

Thank you!

The Garden Club competition has established various categories for businesses and residences that include: creative, beautiful, and baskets done by children; but this year—May 2020—there are no winners to be invited to a special Garden Party Tea Celebration. Social distancing means  Garden Club members were not about to walk the street in close proximity conferring with each other as to which baskets they liked best to award ribbons.

I do not regret the absence of a Garden Party, because of the Coronavirus, but I’d like to see all the participants  acknowledged.  I wish I had some blue ribbons. I imagine walking around and leaving notes for everyone who made a basket. “According to me,” I’d say, “You are a winner! Thank you!” But maybe folks might get suspicious if I got too close to their house.  While I did not leave ribbons and fan letters, I did take a few photographs, to post here on this blog.

Hands down, my favorite is the one done by the  person who filled a rubber glove with water and put a plastic cup inside to hold a few flowers for their May Basket. Simple and brilliant in my estimation. Inspired by their work, my husband Peter and I added inflated latex gloves and a paper mask to our watering can May Basket because imitation is the highest form of flattery.

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I loved some of the baskets done by children. Among them was a wonderful display in the neighborhood of President’s Hill that used rubber boots and was accompanied by a chalk “thank you” to USPS and UPS.

Yes, I know that May first has come and gone and this blog is being posted on May 3rd, but celebratory decorations should be put out all month long. We clap. We sing. We praise our health care workers and our essential workers for being on the front lines. Let’s give a pat on the back to ourselves for staying home, not spreading the virus, and trying to make our lives more beautiful. Create some sort of decoration—plants or sculpture— to greet Spring.

We probably have several months to go of some type of quarantine, so let’s keep the creative projects going.

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Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Scarlet Leaf Review and Storynews. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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