The barley is ripening, the harvesting has begun, summer's course is almost run. Autumn is hiding round the corner waiting to...
"... fill all fruit withripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd,
and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel" *
It has just been St Philibert's day, so I bicycled up to the dean to see if the filberts were ready. We are a bit far north so they are usually a week or so later than the due date.
|Hazel trees in the dean|
St Philibert of Jumieges doesn't seem to have any connection with the hazelnut tree or its fruit other than having his feast day around the time when they appear. He seems to have been a fairly unexciting seventh century abbot (608-684) in what is now France at the time of the Meringovian kings.
Much more exciting was Fionn mac Cumhaill or Finn Mac Coul or Fingal
The young Fionn met the druid and poet Finnegas near the river Boyne and studied under him. Finnegas had spent seven years trying to catch the Salmon of Knowledge which lived in a pool on the river and had became all-knowing through its diet of hazelnuts dropped from a holy tree: whoever ate the salmon would gain all the knowledge in the world. Eventually, the old man caught it and told the boy to cook it for him. While cooking it, Fionn burned his thumb, and instinctively put his thumb in his mouth. This imbued him with the salmon's wisdom, and when Finnegas saw that he had gained wisdom, he gave young Fionn the whole salmon to eat.
Finn Mac Coul became a giant figure, sometimes literally, in Celtic - Irish, Scottish and Manx - legend creating the Giant's Causeway and Fingal's cave.
Eating the filberts has never had much effect on my mental or physical stature but following the path of the stream down the dean to the shore looking for hazel nuts and sloes has always been a pleasure so thanks to good old Philibert for the reminder.
|The dean - a wildlife haven|
|Eventually, it reaches the shore|
* From 'To Autumn' by John Keats