We have kissed goodbye to a lot of things that we like doing in 2020 but one of them seems especially poignant at this time of year. The big mistletoe auction in Worcestershire has been cancelled because of COVID19 and lack of demand. Mistletoe is traditional and is supposed to bring love and luck. Surely, we need these two things more than ever now?
A stolen kiss under the mistletoe added to the romance and special feeling of the season. You could kiss as long as there were berries, one big white berry for each kiss.
I am lucky because mistletoe is growing everywhere in our orchard. Not so long ago we couldn’t get it to grow for love nor anything else. Every year we spread the seed from our shop-bought mistletoe with no luck. Then one year, just under the bough of my apple tree, I saw a tiny pale green shoot. Two long oval leaves developed and the number doubled every growing season. Now, we have mistletoe on all our apple trees. It's spread by the birds and we cannot stop it.
It is interesting to see, it does not harm the tree and we have free decoration for the house. Sadly, there will be no visitors to linger longingly under a garland in the hall this year.
Kisses might be in short supply just now but the little house sparrows are abundant in our garden. They are thriving here, even though, nationally, they are in severe decline. Once, as free as kisses used to be, they are now a rare sight. Like so many other things I took them for granted but rarity focusses my mind.
Last night, I had two treats. I sat outside to see my friend. She finishes her working day at dusk and she drove past to wave. There is nothing like a real person for me these days – one in the flesh and not on video. But the second unexpected treat was that I saw the sparrows going to roost in our clematis clinging to the house wall.
They stood on the garage roof, on the guttering or on a nearby shrub then flew into the Montana climber, which still has its leaves. A safe place – warm from the house and hidden by foliage. About 50 sparrows came, one by one. Each time a newcomer arrived they all twittered their excitement at another family member coming to join them, so that they could spend the night together. How lucky they are.
(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)