This was to be a rant about May. I had it written. It was excoriating, a scalding dressing down the type of which a parent gives to their underage teenager who stays out late, then arrives home at 2am drunk and vomiting on the kitchen floor. Next day, enraged parent sits teenager down to an excessively verbose lecture about what a failure/let-down/disappointment they are and where this path will take them if they don’t soon mend their ways. I had pulled out May’s job specification and underlined keys sections to read out at its mid-term appraisal. I was going to show it precisely where it was falling short. I had written down lines to shame it. You’re such a slovenly mess that you make Boris Johnson look neat and planned. Not only have you let yourself down, but you have let the dawn chorus down; the wee birdies are less vociferous because they were duped by YOU and your 5am sub-zero temperatures at the start of the month accompanied by hail. I’m supposed to be meeting my friends today at 2pm and you, May, have decided to tip it down. You’re dropping more than rain, you’ve dropped the ball, been careless with your talents, abdicated all responsibility towards weeds that should be growing long and lovely and lush (do you even remember that poem?). Instead, pathetic little would-be-weeds are spluttering into life, timid and weak and waning – nothing poetic about that. Straight talking, that’s what I was going for. I was all for pointing out the mess May had made of this year’s cherry blossom; how it blew and rained it all down before the prettiness had a chance to dance and flounce and be ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ at and Instagrammed by wee girls who love pink. I was going to quote my almanac in ironic tones: “May is when the slow and halting progress from winter to summer finally becomes a stampede, and fresh green leaves and white blossom break out all over.” Stampede? My only stampede this month has been a stampede home to divest myself of wet trousers (again) and get into the bath to warm up. I was going to tell it about Andrea’s grass seed; how she rehabilitated her mossy lawn after the wet winter by scarifying, raking, aerating, how she did all the right things to treat and prepare it for the grass seed which she put down in May (just like the book said), and which failed to germinate — all because of May’s volatility, its hissy fit!
But then Karen said something to make me think twice. The weather doesn’t know itself, she said, ascribing unspoken character to this block of thirty-one days, and in doing so, pointing out that my expectations of certain behaviour, of a certain level of decorum, of adherence to poetic convention, does not always come to pass. Who am I to allow my spirit to be broken by the unreliability of the weather? Don’t I know by now that its capriciousness is the one thing be relied upon, in this part of the world at least? Then I thought more about grass, not only Andrea’s grass, but all of the stunted and delayed grass throughout Scotland, impeded because May refuses to stay warm enough to allow it to grow back. Those bald patches, muddied by prolonged wet winter weather walked in by a proliferation of lockdown ramblers, grass that looks as though it might never be green again.
The once-green areas around Arthur’s Seat have alopecia. Areas that ought to be lawn by now remain stressed and I can’t help but think of the grass and its patchiness as a metaphor for us emerging from the lockdown. Some people are galloping at full strength towards the pub door, the swimming pool, the gym (that’s those strong tufts of green that have somehow made it through). Others are hovering by an open window to let the air in, perhaps poke their head out and see people from a distance, wave (that’s the pale green grass that’s nudging through a little – but please don’t walk on it, it is still very delicate). And then there are those who don’t even want to open the curtains never mind the window, they’re not ready for the world as they think the world isn’t quite ready for all these people just yet (that’s all the little dormant seeds lying under the mud, holding themselves back, still germinating, wrapped in blankets, waiting, waiting, waiting). That’s it, we’re all grass, each at our various stages of development and me shouting at May isn’t going make any difference, the grass will green up eventually.