Caught by the River

Wild Berry Calendar – Mistletoe

Mathew Clayton | 30th December 2013


Illustration: Greg Stevenson
Words: Mathew Clayton

‘On the sixth day of the moon… A priest arrayed in white vestments climbs the tree and, with a golden sickle, cuts down the mistletoe, which is caught in a white cloak’. This flowery description of a supposed druid ceremony, written by Pliny the Elder in the first century AD, (and later copied by René Goscinny in the Asterix books) falls into a category the great Ken Campbell would have described as, ‘glorious bollocks’. But when you first spot miseltoe growing wild it is easy to understand why people over the centuries have associated it with magic. It looks freaky. The plant is an obligate hemiparasite, meaning it grows directly out of the branches of its host tree. A few years ago we had some growing in the apple tree in our garden, it was hard not to stare at it, it looked so unnatural.

It is the morning of Xmas Eve. The wife is asleep, the kids are watching telly and the in-laws are on their way. I am wondering whether I really needed that final pint in the Basket Makers last night. Ho-hum another year has slunk away. Sometime in November, in the midst of a discussion of some Caught by the River business, I got a text from Jeff that just said, ‘This is fun isn’t it’ Yes, it is fun and long may it continue.

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