Maypole Celebration, a Spring Success
Looking around me I could scarcely believe that we were celebrating with a Maypole festival in the dilapidated East side of Buffalo. A tall pole with the Farmer Pirates flag hovered over one corner of the lot with streamers dangling ready for dancing. This was the Spring version of a quarterly event held at each one of the East side Farmer Pirate locations in turn. The wide open green space was bordered by freshly tilled earth, and the afternoon sun shone intensely. Concentrated under a few trees gathered the movers and shakers of Buffalo’s urban farming community. These pioneers and supporters streamed onto the grassy field to enjoy roasted goat, lamb, and lentils and the joyful company of each other. Admittedly, it was a motley group, with sun-crusted bikers, young families sporting trendy accessories, well-groomed folks coming in from the suburbs to support urban farming, and your salt-of-the-earth farmers who had hands honored with stains from the soil they worked themselves.
A table spread with an assortment of humble food and a mish-mash of utensils served the crowd, which totalled around 80 at the height of the party. A keg of home-brewed beer was quickly emptied, unsweetened mint tea was poured from a screw-top gallon jar, lemonade was drunk from cans; the people ate and drank with contentment. Several energetic ones played a rousing game of volleyball and some tossed neon frisbees.
Then it was time for the old-fashioned ritual dance around the Maypole itself. With some energetic coordinators, the streamers were clutched in hand and the band of drums, banjo, guitar, fiddle, and mandolin was struck. Most of the young ones just enjoyed a simple trot and wrap-around pattern but eventually a more experienced group wove a spiderweb design around the pole. One man commented he had crossed another wish off his bucket list with the dance.
As the shadows grew longer and the sun more golden, people continued to linger in small bunches or just relaxed alone. More than a typical spring party, there was the sense of enjoying the simple and good things in life together, a blessing not to be taken for granted.