A Hazel in January

rounding winter's grey corner
I'm sprayed in the face with paint
yellow points splatter my retinas

and then drip 

drops trailing vertical paths
like a thousand star speckled
wagtails bursting out of the sun

so impossibly bright tassels
rind of lime as tinsel
a burning hazel bush that
sears everything around it

its catkins strung
between earthed dull gravity
and a skyfull of living things
wanting to live


It may well sound like I'm going way over the top about this catkin festooned hazel.

But it stopped me in my tracks. This gets me every year - but miraculously more so every year.

I doubt that I'd have been more moved by seeing the Mona Lisa. I'll even admit to welling up a bit. It just seemed to have every spring I've ever seen encapsulated in those early January catkins.

Just spring coming round again, nature doing its thing, without fuss of fanfare (except from me!), and life wanting to live.

Male catkin with the tiny red female flower just to the right of it. 
Hazel is monoecious - both male and female flowers are found on the same tree.

The tiny, easily overlooked female flower. Hazel is wind pollinated. once pollinated by wind, the female flowers develop into oval fruits - hazelnuts

Hazel trees in winter are easy to identify - usually multi-stemmed - rather than having a distinct trunk - and of course with the early catkins

Hazel Folklore
...has a reputation as a magical tree. A hazel rod is supposed to protect against evil spirits, as well as being used as a wand and for water-divining. In some parts of England hazel nuts were carried as charms and/or held to ward off rheumatism. In Ireland hazel was known as the 'Tree of Knowledge’, and in medieval times it was a symbol of fertility

hazel bark

hazel leaf

The autumn leaves go a beautiful golden colour

Frosty hazel

Hazel Leaf bud - oval, blunt and hairy - a bit like some people

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