Wisdom and poetic inspiration on the parkway

The city has finally replaced the tree that they removed on the parkway in front of our house (Final Requiem for the Silver Maple). We thought we we would be able to choose the tree we wanted but the city showed up a couple of days ago with a Turkish Filbert. Because the workers who removed the tree didn’t get rid of enough of the old stump, they needed to bring in more machinery to get the hole deeper. Long story short, it finally got planted yesterday.

The Turkish Filbert is a wild hazel nut tree whose nuts apparently are too small to be commercially viable but they are nuts that can be eaten nonetheless. The squirrels seem to sense this and have already been circling the new tree in anxious anticipation, even though it will be a year from now before the nuts will be ready to be consumed.

The druids thought this tree was filled with wisdom and poetic inspiration. A celtic myth relates the story of a pool of water surrounded by nine hazel nut trees. The nuts dropped into the water and were eaten by a salmon who therefore acquired the hazel trees’ wisdom. It took the poet Finneces seven years to catch this salmon of knowledge and, wanting the wisdom all to himself, asked his apprentice to cook the fish but not to eat any of the fish he was cooking. The boy was very obedient but in turning the fish, some hot oil splashed on his thumb and because it burned, he put his thumb, apparently also with a bit of the salmon skin on it, into his mouth thereby gaining all the wisdom and poetic inspiration the fish had to offer. The boy was Fionn Mac Cumhail (aka Finn McCool) who went on to become a famous mythological Irish hero. It is said whenever he needed the salmon’s wisdom to meet his challenges, he would put his thumb in his mouth.

St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland using a piece of hazel wood. Diviners and dowsers prefer the wood of hazel for its sensitivity to underground water and magic. Hermes’ caduceus was made of hazel wood and was said to bring wealth, wisdom, and prosperity.

So, now we have a powerful young tree in front of our house, exuding wisdom and poetic inspiration, if only we can remain open to the gifts it offers.

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10 Responses to Wisdom and poetic inspiration on the parkway

  1. My husband is Irish and we own a carved wooden Salmon that he has perched on his bookshelves. I always knew it was the Salmon of Knowledge but didn’t know why. Who knew it had to do with Hazelnut trees! Thank you for this nice story.

  2. Renee says:

    Hopefully, this tree will bring good fortune to your household.

  3. Jerome Bloom says:


  4. Jerome Bloom says:







  5. Oh, I love this. I hope the tree grows and prospers. You and your family, too.

  6. Okay, I will find a way to make noisette ice cream (I agree probably better than the noisette whatever) and share it with my children and YOU! Do you think I could make it with hazel nuts from your tree? Hmmm….a project?

  7. berlinplants says:

    Great post! We have a lot of these trees in Berlin and just wrote about them on our new blog (berlinplants.wordpress.com)! The hazelnuts have a slightly milder taste than the ones that are sold commercially, but they are delicious nonetheless… hope you’ll be able to enjoy them when they’re ready 🙂

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