Here we go gathering nuts!
Walking in the woods earlier today I was surprised at the amount of nuts there were on the Hazel trees (corylus). This brought back the happiest memory I have of my grandfather.
I was six at the time and it was just before he died, but thankfully we had this special time together. We had walked down through the valley where we lived, following the river as we went. My grandfather was a quiet man and I distinctly remember that I did most of the talking. I remember him wearing baggy trousers which were held up by a pair of braces which one hand clung to, the other was wrapped gently around my own. His shirt was white and collarless and on his head he wore flat cloth cap. He never went anywhere without his flat cap.
‘That is a magical tree,’ he said and pointed upwards to where I spotted bunches of green nuts. I loved nuts but had no idea (at that time) that they grew on trees.
‘Can we pick some?’ I asked excitedly. And so my grandfather removed his flat cap and we filled it with hazelnuts and with a couple of stones, my grandfather cracked a few for me to taste. Although they were green, they were the best nuts I have ever had.
‘We must leave some for the wood pigeons, jays, tits and the woodpeckers,’ said my grandfather and although slightly disappointed (or a tad greedy) I nodded my head in agreement.
On the walk back home, I asked my grandfather why it was a magic tree. ‘For many reasons,’ he said, ‘but I think it’s because you can bend the branches in a knot in spring, and you can’t do that with many trees!’ Then he pulled out a couple of nuts from his deep pocket and said, ‘my father, your great grandfather once told me that he carried a few hazelnuts in his pocket to ward off the rheumatism. Now I am old too so I do the same thing!’
Although I am not yet old, I picked some nuts from a hazel tree today, and did the same thing.