Friday, November 25, 2005

Stalking the Wily Mistletoe

It's the time of year when those of us with a traditional leaning (at least in the Southern U.S.) go out and gather the necessary accompaniments to the celebration of the holidays: a Christmas tree, evergreen branches, holly, and mistletoe.

My wife is from Wisconsin, bless her heart. Last year was her first time to live out the entire gamut of the seasons in a Southern clime, and she reveled in it. When Christmas time came near, I told her of the necessity of going out and gathering mistletoe. (I had been pointing out to her the clumps growing high in the oaks and sycamore, ever since the leaves had fallen enough to make the mistletoe visible.)

She looked at me with surprise. "How do you get it?" she asked me. "Those branches look too thin to climb out onto!"

"You shoot it down," I replied. To which serious answer she laughed and refused to believe me. I told her to confirm it by asking someone else. So the next time we were at my parents' house, she turned to my father and asked, "Charlie, how do you get mistletoe?"

He promply replied, "You shoot it down." Her lower jaw dropped and I grinned. She had equated "mistletoe shooting" with "snipe hunting", I believe - a mythical occupation used to confound and trick the unwary.

The following weekend we went to my Aunt Jewel's home in a nearby pastoral community and took shotguns and small-caliber rifles with us. We took careful aim and brought down several trophy branches of mistletoe, while my wife mostly shook her head at the doings of the strange Southerners. I finally convinced her to take a shot, but she only managed to bag a few small twigs.

Anyway, this year she began talking about the "Annual Mistletoe Hunt" a couple of weeks ago, and today we went to another location to fetch home the high-dwelling plant. We managed to collect two grocery bags of it, and much of it is going to be shipped home to her relatives in Wisconsin, who had never heard of such an event. To quote my wife, "The only time I had ever seen mistletoe was hanging in a little cellophane bag, next to the cashier at the store." They didn't believe her last year, until she sent them several photos of the mighty mistletoe hunters, bringing down their prey.

And as you can see, it works - even if it isn't cut down by Druids wielding golden sickles.

1 comment:

R Flowers said...

Caption to your picture: Is that a shotgun, or are you just happy to see me?