And though the month of May might have brought Maypoles and baskets of flowers, it was also a month of growth and renewal - and the season of the plow. After months of breathing stale, smoky air, the smell of the freshly turned earth made the toil of plowing bearable.
Almanacs from colonial times advised, "In May your Indian corn must be planted. This is the basic chore and the field work of the year." Corn to the colonists meant grain from wheat, oats or any grass that bore kernels. Thus they called the kernels on the main crop of the Native American's, corn.
It's interesting to note that corn, left on its own, will not reseed. It requires proper planting, a few seeds in a hill of dirt, for the kernels to survive and propagate.
In addition to plowing, May was the season to collect pole wood. And though it might be used for a Maypole, it also would be used to make brooms for spring cleaning, among other things.
Other "woodlot chores" in May would include gathering splintwood for baskets and barrel hoops. Black ash, hickory and white oak were commonly used and after cutting into splints, they were kept in running water, which helped keep them soft and ready for pounding.
How to make a yellow birch broom: find one yellow birch sapling, peel off the bark and cut into a pole. Splinter one end upward. Make cuts in the middle to splinter downward. Fold the middle splinters downward and tie around the lower splinters.
Rebecca's debut novel, A PLACE IN HIS HEART, is a historical romance based
on Mary and Barnabas Horton, Rebecca’s ninth great-grandparents. Set in 1600’s Southold, Long Island, book one of The Southold Chronicles releases June 3rd. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and when not writing, she enjoys faith, family, genealogy, travel, reading, running, baking and gardening. Rebecca is represented by Greg Johnson of WordServe Literary Agency.