Tomorrow is May 1st. Labour Day, where I am from. I have memories of having no school that day so we could participate in political marches and/or festive outings. One lesser known tradition, the one I remember most fondly, was the practice of offering a sprig of lily-of-the-valley to friends and loved ones, as a good luck omen for the year. Something in season, something local that expresses our best wishes for hope and happiness.
For a long time I searched for a parallel celebration here in Ontario. I didn't find any. So, as many immigrants to this country, I ended up having to create a new tradition rooted in my past and inspired by my present environment. I was looking for a special day that could become a widely shared one, a day with a festive flavour in the air, which would signify the beginning of the growing season. I found that tradition in a local yearly event and I feel that it is a tradition many others have joyfully endorsed.
As many of you already know, this year May 1st coincides with the grand opening of the Peterborough Downtown Farmers' Market. Held on the Louis Street parking lot, just east of the Charlotte and Aylmer St intersection, the market is once again going to bring a breath of joy and colour to this otherwise dull parking lot every Wednesday, from 8:30 am to 2 pm.
The opening of the downtown market has become my Spring / May 1st tradition. I find my sprig-like offering in a bunch of kale or a bag of spinach.
What about you? Are you planning to head out to the market tomorrow? It's a great tradition which is easy to follow. Take a bag, bring friends and come to discover the bounty of our region. You will be able to connect with the many local growers present and bask in the great community atmosphere that sprouts from the market. And hopefully this tradition is going to grow, to the point where it will become an official holiday marking the beginning of the growing season locally. Who knows our new Minster of Food might embrace the idea and tie it into the new Local Food Act...