Friday, 1 June 2012

Going nuts

I can remember singing the 'Nuts in May' rhyme when I was at school, or at least I think I can. Our version went something like:

Here we go gathering nuts in May,
Nuts in May, nuts in May,
Here we go gathering nuts in May,
On a cold and frosty morning.

Nuts? In May? It doesn't make a great deal of sense, does it? For that matter, frosty May mornings don't make sense either.

I reckon it's one of those things that aren't supposed to make any sense. But the best of the possible explanations is that its meant to be 'nots of May' - that's the blossom of hawthorn, or May.
We have lots of May here now; the hawthorn hedge is white with blossom and fallen petals cover the ground. Up close the air is heavy with what Richard Mabey calls a "wickedly exciting, musky smell".
I'm not sure that it's wicked, but it's a sweet scent and makes me think that I should give Mabey's recipe for a May petal spirit a try. In 'Food for Free' he suggests putting petals into brandy to make a liquer
What the hedge lacks now is wrens, which makes something of a change. While the wren parents were feeding their brood in the garage the hedge was their stopping-off point.
Much of the time one of the birds was hidden in among the new leaves waiting for the a moment when the coast was clear. But over the last few days the chicks have fledged and gone.
I'd been expecting problems as we've got cats, but it all went off very smoothly. One day they were there, the next they'd gone.

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