“So…are you picking all my flowers? I’m not going to have any left at the rate you’re going.”
But Mom was smiling as she stood at the back door, observing the results of Kelly’s newest idea.
“Only as many as fit in the wagon, Mom,” said Brent, who was helping.
As usual, Doug thought it was silly, and Matt was off doing his own thing.
The old red wagon that had belonged to their great grandfather was filled with baskets belonging to their great grandmother. Kelly had collected them from attic and basement and garage, had cleaned them up, and was filling them with bright flowers from her mother’s garden. Wet moss had gone in first, then red and pink tulips, purple hyacinths, and yellow daffodils.
Six baskets fit in the wagon. Kelly and Brent were just about ready to head out.
Doug came bounding into the yard, bouncing a basketball, which threatened to knock over some of her baskets as it came a little too close to the wagon.
“Watch it,” warned Brent.
Doug retrieved his ball and tossed it at the hoop over the garage door. He made a basket, then turned and replied, “I still think it’s silly. Nobody does May Day baskets anymore.”
“You always think my ideas are silly,” Kelly pouted. Then she brightened. “But they’re fun.”
“They’re always a lot of work.” Doug replied, shooting again and making another basket.
“But she always seems to make people happy—and finds some new friends,” Mom told him.
“We’re going to old friends today,” said Kelly. “And they are old. That means they remember doing this when they were young.”
“That’s right,” said Brent. “It’ll bring back happy memories, maybe. It may not mean anything to people these days, but they’ll appreciate it.”
“You never know. People these days might appreciate the gesture, too. Maybe it’s time to restart some of these old traditions,” said Mom.
She returned to the kitchen. “Have fun.”
“You can come along, Doug,” invited his twin.
“Well, maybe. Since they’ll be nobody to hang around with here,” he grumbled.
Kelly had one more idea before they left. But she knew Brent would hate it. She brought out two daisy chains she’d braided.
“Oh, no. Those aren’t for the dogs, are they. They’ll look silly.” Brent had helped her with everything else, but he balked at this.
“But it’s May Day. Nobody will think it’s silly on May Day.”
“Hmmm,” Brent shook his head at her and sighed. “I doubt they’ll even keep them on. Those flowers will be shredded in no time.”
“Let’s try. Come’re Scrap. Put this on and we’ll take a picture for Mr. Wheeler.”
Scrap’s old owner would get a kick out of it, she was sure. The red setter moseyed over cheerfully, and she put the flower chain around his neck.
“It just fits. See? He’s okay with it.” Scrap nosed her curiously, but didn’t seem to mind.
She placed Corky’s around his neck.
Brent laughed. “Okay. I guess. Mom, come take a picture!”
First they went to Mrs. Schneider’s, next door. She wasn’t home, so they just placed the basket of flowers on her fence post.
Then they headed down the street to Mrs. MacGregor’s. They watched carefully to make sure she wasn’t sitting at her front window, looking out as she often did. They ve-ery slowly opened the gate so the hinges wouldn’t creak. Kelly snuck up to the front step while the boys stayed with the wagon behind the fence. She placed the basket of flowers on the step and rang the bell, then slipped behind the bushes.
It would take a while for the old woman to get to the door, for she couldn’t walk very well.
Kelly remembered how kids used to do this—ring her bell and hide. But it was for nasty purposes. The mean boys and girls used to call her Old Annie and make messes on her steps, or run from door to door, ringing the bells—especially at Halloween. Those days were gone now that the Lorings were friends with her. Everyone knew they wouldn’t put up with people terrorizing the old lady. Neither would their policeman friend.
Suddenly the door swung open—much more quickly than Kelly expected.
“Hey, you kids! I see you out there! What are you doing ringing my bell!” But this time, instead of in fear and anger—her tone was teasing. Then she saw the surprise. “Kelly Loring, I’ll bet it’s you! Happy May Day!”
Kelly popped out from behind the bushes as the old lady picked up the basket.
“Brent, Doug, I see you trying to hide down there! Come on in! I’m making cookies! Oh, my! Look at those dogs!”
A while later, the kids left, munching the big, warm sugar cookies that she was famous for.
Soon they came out onto the main street and passed a narrow alley. An alley that Kelly wasn’t allowed to enter, normally. But Mom had said it was okay, this once, in broad daylight. If they all stayed together. Plus they had the dogs with them.
They turned into the dirty, garbage strewn little street. Old, broken down houses with sad looking people…. Suddenly Kelly wished she had flower baskets for them all. But some of the women and a few of the little kids, seemed to brighten up and smile at them, just at the sight of the pretty flowers and the dogs with their daisy chains.
Brent and Doug weren’t so sure. They knew there were some bigger boys who might try to ruin Kelly’s nice flower baskets. Brent spoke to the dogs and they were on the alert. Plus Mom had given them the cell phone, just in case.
But they made it safely to Jani’s house, halfway down the alley. She lived on the first floor and Kelly knocked on her window, not wanting to make the lady across the hall angry—as she always seemed to be if anyone disturbed her by ringing the doorbell.
They saw Jani’s face in the window, and her mouth open in an Oh at the sight of the flowers.
She burst out the door and Kelly held out a basket to her.
“How beautiful! My mother’s been sick again. She’ll love this! Thank you.”
Kelly saw the old woman in the opposite apartment scowling out her window at all the commotion. Suddenly Kelly said, “here—take one to her.”
The boys looked at her curiously, about to say something about not having enough, but she beat them to it. “We can make another one for Mrs. Gebler. There’s plenty of baskets—and flowers—at home. ”
Jani looked at her in surprise, too. “That’d be so nice. She really is pretty down and depressed all the time. Okay, yeah,” she whispered, “she’s mean, too—but so what? Flowers couldn’t hurt anything.”
“Sounds like somebody else we used to know,” said Doug. “Mrs. MacGregor wasn’t mean, though—just sad.”
Janie continued to whisper. “This lady has a lot of really bad problems. Her kids are into drugs and one’s in jail and…just like everyone around here, she hasn’t got much money. She just feels hopeless sometimes.”
“Give it to her then. Maybe it’ll cheer her up a little.”
They headed back out the alley and as they looked back, Jani was carrying both baskets in and closing the dirty, unpainted door.
They made a couple more visits than headed back.
“Who are we giving this last one to?” asked Doug.
“You’re giving a basket of flowers to a man?”
“His wife died a while ago, remember? I thought he might like it….”
“If he doesn’t, he can give it to his daughter. She lives in the little cottage on his property,” said Brent.
Doug shrugged. “Okay.”
They turned at the green house and pulled the wagon up the walk. But when they reached his door, they noticed a bunch of mail strewn on the step.
“Looks like he dropped his mail. Wonder why he didn’t pick it up,” said Brent, gathering up the envelopes.
“The door’s open.”
Sure enough, the green door was open a crack.
“Mr. Fraser….” called Kelly.
Brent gave it a push.
The old man was laying on the floor. He wasn’t moving.
“He fainted or something!” exclaimed Brent.
Doug, who wanted to be a paramedic someday, hurried forward and reached for the man’s wrist. “Call 911. Then call Mom!”
Brent pulled out the cell phone and punched in the numbers.
“He’s alive. I feel his pulse,” said Doug, in relief.
Mom, who was just across the street, made it before the paramedics. She went with him to the hospital, calling his daughter at work.
The kids locked up his house before heading home.
A while later, Mom called. “He’s going to be all right. They’re checking to find out why he passed out. But everyone says it’s a good thing you found him when you did. His daughter was to be away overnight for a conference. If he had laid there for hours like some people do when they fall, he definitely wouldn’t be all right.”
“Guess it’s a good thing you wanted to take him a May basket,” said Brent.
“Can we come see him? And bring him his basket?” asked Kelly. “Or isn’t he well enough?”
“I’m going to stay a while since it will take time for his daughter to get here. We’ll bring you back tonight with the basket. He can have visitors, they say.”
The kids clicked off, wondering what to do next.
“Should we make another basket and take it to Mrs. Gebler?” asked Kelly. “I don’t mind walking all that way but….”
They both looked at Doug. He probably wanted to play instead. But he was friends with Mrs. Gebler. He did work for her sometimes.
Brent spoke up. “Not that she needs flowers. She has beautiful gardens.”
Mrs. Gebler was rich—and a cheerful lady. But she was sometimes rather lonely on her large estate.
Doug surprised them. “Let’s do it. She has lots of flowers, but she’d appreciate a basket of May Day flowers, just because we took the trouble to make it for her.”
“Okay!” said Kelly. She grinned. “But I have another idea, too. Don’t take those flowers off the dogs, Brent! Leave them for a little while longer. They still look okay.”
For the boy was about to remove the daisy chains from his dogs’ necks. He stopped and grinned at her. “Now what are you up to?”
Surprisingly, the boys liked Kelly’s idea—and even helped, picking more daisies and watching carefully as she taught them how to braid them together. They made a much larger chain than their own dogs wore.
Then they were off with their red wagon again.
Some kids might sneer at them for spending their Saturday delivering flowers, but as Mom had said, it was rather fun to make people happy.
They walked out of their neighborhood, bypassing Mr. Fraser’s and Mrs. MacGregor, who was indeed at her widow, waving to them.
They passed the alley and at the main road turned right this time. Up a hill, carefully crossing the street at the stop light, everyone, even strangers, waving and smiling at them and their red wagon. Finally they reached the high black gates. They were unlocked, as usual, but they didn’t buzz Mrs. Gebler. They wanted to surprise her.
The kids found her in a little gazebo, in the middle of her gardens, where she liked to sit in her wheel chair.
There beside her, was a huge Saint Bernard named Buddy. He rose and came over to sniff and lick them—his way of saying hello.
“Okay, okay, Buddy, enough!” laughed Doug.
They put the huge flower chain around his neck. and then went to present their basket to the old lady.
She laughed as the dogs frolicked and played. She buzzed for lemonade to be brought out to her guests.
“I was feeling a little lonely today.” she said. “See that pole sticking up over there?”
Doug had often wondered what it was for.
“My sisters and my friends and I used to have a party on May Day. And that was the Maypole. My father put it up and my mother would tie long, long ribbons and—”
“You actually danced round the maypole?” asked Kelly, excitedly.
“Yup, all decked out in our best dresses, with flowers in our hair. There were May breakfasts and parties and it was such fun to celebrate Spring. I guess I was daydreaming about it all—and then who comes with a May Basket—you! Ah, here’s Rosita with the lemonade. She made cupcakes, too, even though I wasn’t expecting anybody!”
“Leave it to Kelly to think of fun things to do,” said Brent, as he took a glass of lemonade off the tray.
Rosita took pictures of them all with her phone, to put on Facebook.
They waved enthusiastically. “Happy May Day, everybody!”