the hopefulness of mistletoe



One of my favourite books to read at this time of year is What to Look for in Winter written by the poetic and mysterious E.L. Grant Watson. I love this series of Ladybird books and for me each change of season is marked by their beautiful words and C. F. Tunnicliffe's evocative illustrations.

Last weekend I spent a few days with friends in the thin winter light and quiet landscape of North Somerset. Everywhere you looked, the tall skeletal trees were laden with bright green orbs of mistletoe, hanging in the damp still air. Apparently it is a very good year for mistletoe, although I am not sure why. I don't know if anyone has identified exactly how it appears, but in 1959 E.L. Grant Watson wrote "How mistletoe grows on trees nobody knows for sure. Poplars and apple trees are the most likely hosts for this half-parasitic plant. If you can find out how mistletoe germinates, you will be a discoverer of one of Nature's secrets".

Like Grant Watson himself, a beautiful mystery. If anyone knows anything about him other than the thin sprinkling of information on the web I would love to know. But if you know how mistletoe germinates, don't tell me. I like living with the enigma, and think of Rainer Maria Rilke, who wrote "Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves". This is a thought I carry with me daily. There are many unanswered questions in life these days. But it is still beautiful.



17 comments:

Marigold Jam said...

Lovely post and I think sometimes it is good not to know the answers to all the questions that surround us.

Sarah Halliday said...

How true! and lovely x

Karen L R said...

I have ben looking for mistletoe all over the place here in Vermont (USA). No one seems to have it. I would so love to grow it, but it is too cold here. Love the pics here. Happy Christmas!

Frances said...

Sue, it's a treat to see this post from you, particularly since you offer lots of mistletoe info and a lovely photo, too. Just yesterday I visited my favorite farmers market downtown in Union Square, and found that one farmer (from whom I currently buy broccoli and rosemary) had mistletoe on offer. Yet, this mistletoe did not have any of those distinctive white globes. I should have investigated this, but the queue waiting behind me was long. I'll ask next week...after the Christmas rush.

It is always such a treat to see a post from you. Wishing you and yours a Happy Christmas and great days in the New Year.

Still hoping that on some future day, here or there, we might again have the opportunity to meet and talk of many things. xo

Sue said...

And I often think of all the mistletoe I saw when I came to see you in Munich too: http://mousenotebook.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/impressions-of-munich.html xxx

Sue said...

Thank you Jane. I think you are right.

Sue said...

Happy Christmas to you too Karen! X

Sue said...

Hello and thank you, dear Frances. I like to imagine you going about your days in lovely NYC. I still remember you taking me into the bank to get a roll of quarters for the bus :-) xx

alice c said...

"...try to love the questions themselves"

A phrase to carry in my heart - thank you! I wish you a peaceful Christmas and light and warmth in unexpected places in the New Year.

Toffeeapple said...

You should probably never listen to Gardener's Question Time then, it frequently comes up at this time of year.

Sue said...

Lovely Alice, how splendid to hear from you. 'Light and warmth in unexpected places'... I will treasure that. X

Sue said...

Ha! I never do so that's ok :-)

Celia Hart said...

Oh those books are gems! I recently found my childhood copies and was amazed I remembered every illustration! I think they inspired my dream to be an artist.

I've tried to grow mistletoe but after germinating the tiny green shoot fails to develop further. But I know a fruit farmer who has grown Mistletoe on many of his apple trees and harvests it as a winter crop. He obviously knows the secret to success!

Sue said...

The illustrations are exquisite aren't they Celia. I have eight of my favourites framed in my kitchen and I think they give me more pleasure than almost any other of my pictures. Merry Christmas to you x

Acornmoon said...

I share your love of Tunnicliffe, how lovely would it be to stumble upon a good copy of that book. I found some old I Spy Books recently, also part of our childhood.

I hope you have a Blessed Christmas and an inspirational New Year. xxx

Sue said...

Have a lovely Christmas too Val. Laugh lots and be happy xx

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