I have this nice picture of the Hazel tree from just down the lane. If you look you’ll see that, even though the nuts are not yet ripe, we have nice new catkins starting to form. I wondered what I could tell you about the Hazel today. We’ve looked at Hazel two or three times, so it needed to be something we haven’t touched on before. So I asked Google to have a look around and see what he could come up with on coracle building.
Well, it turns out that, as a general rule, coracles are built of whatever is to hand but mostly willow. So no Hazel there then. But while I was looking at those funny, flimsy cockleshells that our hardy ancestors put to sea in, I came across Prince Madoc, another Celtic hero, but a Welshman this time.
Prince Madoc came from a large family and when his Dad died civil war broke out amongst the siblings – to decide who’s turn it was to play king. Eventually he became bored with all of this or maybe he noticed he was loosing more than he won, so he decided to sail away and discover America before Columbus got round to it. Apparently he did that – and he sent back for more of his folk. They went off and disappeared into the pages of myth and legend. In spite of the fact that no one knows anything about his actual destination, we have a large body of literature covering his adventures in America.
Earlier in the year, there were a few trees with catkins. We assumed would turn out to be Hazel. I’m pleased to report that, at least in this case, we were right. Did I mention that The Dog is quite fond of the Wild Cherries? She finds them on the ground and spits the stones out after she’s eaten them. She really doesn’t appreciate my excitement over the Hazel trees. Admittedly the nuts aren’t ripe yet.
Seeking something of interest to pass on to you, preferably in a format that made it sound as if I had known it all along, I looked at what Google knew of the Hazel. He offered me a selection interesting snippets. In America, Oregon to be exact, they are expecting a good crop, slightly earlier than usual, this year. While, in the Upper Mid-West of that same Union of States, one Hazelnut producer has developed a device to shake the nut loose from the bits of tree that usually come with it, using a five gallon bucket, a few odds and ends and an electric drill. This combo does, in twenty seconds, what can take up to twenty minutes by hand.
Somewhere (probably in Ireland but possibly on The Isle of Man or in Scotland) there is a lake with nine Hazel trees growing around it. They overhang the lake and the nuts drop into it enriching the water with all the knowledge in the world.
If you should catch a salmon there, that tall, white haired guy that turns up and offers to cook it for you, is Finn McCool the mythical Celtic hero.