With Christmas behind us, there’s New Year to look forward to – which is the right time (naturellement) for mistletoe if you live en France.
But we’ll have more about French New Year Mistletoe customs later in the week. For now, here are a few links to stories about US mistletoe – including a seasonal ’shooting it down’ story. Most of the mistletoe species used in America at Christmas grow rather high in the host trees, and shooting it down is a regular seasonal pastime for some. Here’s a recent account about James Henderson of Lynchberg, Virginia who;
leans forward, slowly squeezes the trigger and lets loose with a series of shots that echo in the crisp morning air. The bare branches of the dying oak shimmy, sending fat water drops onto Henderson’s bright green turtleneck.
“I love shooting mistletoe because it always reminds me of my granddad,” said Henderson, who sells the mistletoe at Lynchburg’s Community Market during the holidays.
His grandfather’s .22 single-shot rests against the moss-speckled fence as he examines the clusters of green bunched tightly against different branches of the tree.
“A lot of people like using ladders, but I grew up shooting it,” he said with a smile as he nestles the butt of the gun against his shoulder again.
He sometimes spends an entire day hunting the plant. It took about an hour and more than three dozen .22 shells to fill one basket of mistletoe on a recent Friday.
That’s from Christmas Day’s issue of Richmond Times Dispatch.
Not all US mistletoe is shot out of the trees though – here’s an alternative approach from Tennessee, reported by NPR radio on 22nd December (the link has an audio feed too), where 60-year old Bill Anderson climbs trees to get it:
In east Tennessee, one harvester, Bill Anderson, spotted some mistletoe in a leafless maple tree. The tree is down a narrow scratchy path that winds past an old graveyard, across a half-frozen bog and an ice-cold stream.
It looks like someone tossed an evergreen shrub into the tree’s highest branches.
“I really can’t tell how big it is from here,” Anderson says. “It’s about two feet across. And I have no idea how high that is.”
He settles on around 35 feet, but Anderson can handle it. At 60 years old, he’s a seasoned climber with all the proper safety gear. And he likes being up in the trees — he says it’s both challenging and peaceful up there.
If you’re curious about US mistletoe you’ll find out a little more in this piece, by herbal medicine specialist Holli Richey, in yesterday’s Athens Banner-Herald online. (that’s Athens, Georgia, in case you’re wondering)
Much closer to home, in Scarborough, Yorkshire there’s this Christmas Eve mistletoe story (pictured left) from the Scarborough Evening News. This seems an everyday seasonal story about mistletoe at Christmas, but one line is intriguing: ”… Blooms in Victoria Road, who sourced their mistletoe locally…”
They sourced their mistletoe locally? In Scarborough?
There’s hardly any mistletoe in Yorkshire, so what do they mean – is it really from a local source, or is it just generic ‘English’ mistletoe (and therefore probably from Herefordshire or Worcestershire, not really ”local’), or is it just a feel-good marketing phrase, dropped into the media interview following the recent publicity over the (alleged) horrors of imported mistletoe? I suspect the latter, though of course there could be a mystery mistletoe plantation somewhere along the N Yorks coast… but I rather doubt it. But I have recently been alerted to an equally unlikely sounding commercial mistletoe plantation over in Denmark – but that’s a story for another time.
Meanwhile, if you’ve not taken part in this year’s online questionnaire about mistletoe and where you get it, why not have a go now – I’ll be putting updated stats online in a day or two, so get your data in now…
Go to www.british.mistletoe.org.uk to take part, or click the direct link below: