Happy May Day! My French American coworker tells me they give flowers, lily of the valley to be exact. When I was a kid we’d leave baskets or bouquets of flowers on the porch, ring the doorbell and run away. The flowers were generally made of paper, a craft project at school, or they were dandelions picked from yards on the way home from school. And my mom, bless her, would always be surprised, “who cold have given me flowers?” And her daughters, arriving home suspiciously close to when the flowers were left on the porch, were surprised too, “Mom got flowers from a secret admirer!” Of course we couldn’t keep our secret long but my mom managed to continue the charade and act surprised and delighted that the wilting dandelions or oddly shaped construction paper flowers were the most delightful surprise she had ever had. Those were the days.

May is a good month in Minneapolis. It is the month when gardening begins in earnest and there is a rush to get seeds planted. There is also much time spent worrying over the weather. Our average last frost day is May 15th but with climate change the last frost date moves around leaving me wondering whether it is safe to plant out the tomatoes on May 9th or do I wait another week and pretend like I don’t hear the root-bound cries of desperation emanating from them. The time in the garden takes time away from reading but I don’t regret it at all.

The gardening intrusion began a bit in April so I didn’t read as much as I had planned. Knowing May will be busier do you think I can lay off piling on the books? Of course not!

I do plan on concentrating on Pere Goriot by Balzac. I’ve been dragging this one along since February. I don’t know why it is taking me so long to read it. It isn’t a bad book. But then it isn’t a book that sweeps one up either. I’m on page 193 of 303, so a little over halfway. Even though it took me three months to get that far, surely I can finish by the end of May?

King Lear I began reading late in the month, around Shakespeare’s birthday actually. Bookman and I will be going to see the National Theatre Live broadcast at a local movie theater on June 1st and I plan to have finished reading the play by then.

For some reason I went on a library book request spree mid April. Only one of the books was actually immediately available, Teaming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels. It is the book on soil health that was recommended at the gardening class I took. I haven’t managed to open the cover yet, but I plan on getting started on it in May. Of course several books I didn’t think I’d get for some time have already arrived or are on their way or will be sometime during the month. No renewals. Yikes!

My turn just came up for The Luminaries as an ebook. I have it downloaded and on my Kindle and as long as I remember to not turn on my wifi, it will stay on my Kindle for as long as it takes me to read it. Thank goodness I don’t have to rush through that one! Also as an ebook from the library is the most recent book by Nicholas Basbanes On Paper, which is a history of paper. On its way to me from the library as I type is The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon. I don’t even remember how I found out about this one. It is a dystopian novel about the dangers of technology and the power of the printed word. I will spare you the list of other books that might arrive for me from the library later in the month because if I detail them I might begin to panic.

But before I can get to those library books I have two that I am in the midst of that I can’t renew and have to finish first. I am still enjoying The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. It’s a good story set in the 1975 art world. The other book is nonfiction, Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding by Lynn Darling. Darling is middle-aged, widowed, and her daughter has just left home for college. She leaves New York, buys herself a quirky house in the woods of Vermont near Woodstock hoping to figure out who she wants to become now that she is alone. It’s pretty good so far.

Whew. Clearly my time management skills when it comes to reading this month will be strained. But hey, there are worse things in the world than to be buried under a pile of books!

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