December

Watch out for the mistletoe
For it’s that time of year
Once you’re under it, people insist
You’re full of Christmas cheer

A large part of December is taken up with a) preparing for Christmas, b) undergoing Christmas and c) recovering from Christmas. One the decorations that tend to be hung around the house at this time, is often mistletoe. Although its association with Christmas is more coincidental than genuine, the plant has had a special place in mid-winter customs for a very long time, and its use pre-dates Christianity. It’s still considered to be a pagan plant by the Church and often banned from Church decorations; however, having a piece of mistletoe hanging in an appropriate spot is still favoured in many homes at Christmas. Mistletoe is actually a parasite, which grows on the branches of trees, particularly apple trees; it is actually very rare to find any on oak trees. If you are driving down The Street towards Deblins Green, you can see a large bunch of mistletoe at the top of an apple tree on the right hand side of the road.

On what was a beautiful, if absolutely freezing, Saturday morning at the beginning of the December, some LEAP volunteers replaced old waymarkers around the village in order to make footpath routes a bit clearer as well as a bit of trimming back. This was really enjoyable, as long as your aim with the hammer was true. It was good to be outside on such a day and the temperature became more bearable in the sunshine.

We had the first power cut of the season near the end of December and, though it only lasted for about 15 minutes, it made me think of last winter and the number of blackouts we had then, one of which lasted nearly 48 hours. It is very humbling to realise how dependent we are on having continual electrical power to make our lives bearable. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the final object in Neil MacGregor’s, ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’ is a small solar powered lamp and charger made in China in 2010, which, when it is exposed to eight hours of bright sunlight, can provide up to 100 hours of even white light and is not expensive to buy. Solar power may provide part of the answer to our dependence on fossil fuels as well as providing most of the energy in countries where the population don’t have access to an electrical grid but do have bright sunlight. Apparently, Thomas Edison said in 1931: “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that;” an interesting comment from the man who invented the light bulb.

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