Thursday, 17 September 2015

61. Hazel nuts

Autumn hazel with ripening nuts and yellowing leaves 
The first hazel nuts crunched under my feet as I walked the gravel path past the Samhain garden. The season is turning, and in the two weeks I have been away the summer spectrum of greens has shifted towards autumn golds.

On the ground, I found some old hazel shells split down the middle - evidence of squirrels having eaten the nuts. There are red squirrels are in the area and I live in hope of spotting one. Meanwhile, it is fun being a mammal detective: split nuts indicate squirrels, nuts with nibbled holes are evidence of field mice.
Evidence of red squirrels

In Celtic tree lore hazel is the tree of wisdom. The mythical hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill receives the wisdom of all things from the salmon of knowledge, who gained its wisdom from eating the hazel nuts that fell into a magical well.

A little wisdom would not go amiss, so I hold the ripening nuts in my hand.  They feel smooth, round, satisfying, rich. Of course wisdom is not so easily won, either under the hazel tree or, as Bhudda found, under the bhodi tree. But if the meaning in the mythology is that deep nature is the real source of wisdom, I am contented standing here, surrounded by the living trees. 

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