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.