Sunday, May 1, 2011


Happy May Day!
Daffodils are in bloom at last!

May Day, Primo Giorno (the first day of May), is a national holiday in Italy. The holiday, called Festa Dei Lavoratori is to honor workers and can be compared to Labor Day.
Our first experience with this Italian holiday happened several years back. We were sitting in a bar (cafe) in the small hill town of Panicale. This region of Umbria is quite agrarian.
An area of farms with sheep grazing on fields of grass, hills patterned with olive trees, vineyards, and apple orchards. The land around the nearby Lake Trasimeno is where tiny lentils are grown, that are unique to Umbria.
That morning, sitting with cappuccino to our surprise trucks, large tractors, impossibly tiny utiliatria ( 3-4 wheeled trucks), every type of farm vehicle on wheels began to fill the piazza.
This was quite amazing since Panicale is a walled medieval town with a rather small arched entrance into the piazza. It was delightful to see the farmers in their "Sunday finest" and their farm vehicles polished for this parade!
This was a Festa dei Lavoratori gathering, a workers demonstration with speakers, a poet and more speakers.........essentially "workers are the heart of the community, workers unite!"

For us, May Day is a day to get more serious about the garden. We are happy to see the daffodils proud in full bloom. Lilacs are setting flower buds. Each morning the pale green of new leaves increases on the trees just outside the window.
Some of the seeds that have been started inside come outside to adjust to the still cool air. Peas will get planted, then planted again in another week or two. Greens, spinach, rabe and chard are next on our list of soon to be planted seeds.

A picnic! Deviled eggs with chives topped with smoked paprika. Grilled chicken and a salad of fresh greens. The chives are from our garden and all the other ingredients for our porch picnic are from local farms.

So, our May Day has Italian roots. We begin to plant our garden. We start our picnic with a toast to the farmers who the heart of our communities. Providing good fresh food for our tables is tireless work.
Celebrate the farmer and support local farms!

Happy May Day!

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