Under the Hawthorn Tree

I can never pick a favorite flower; I love bold sunflowers and bowing bluebells, I adore filling my home with sweet-smelling lilacs and admiring a vivid field of rapeseed. But if there's one flower that tugs at my romantic heartstrings it has to be a hawthorn. It's a fairly humble flower, mostly spotted in the hedgerows between fields and along rambling paths. Patches of white and delicately pink flowers that dot the landscape but are mostly taken for granted these days. But hawthorns have a magical legacy and are closely tied to fairies and for that reason I'm quite enamored with them. At heart I am a romantic; not in the sense of being overly enamored with romance, but in the sense of Romanticism--a love of nature and legends. The two feel hopelessly intertwined to me. How can you watch the magic of spring blossom each year and not feel as if there is some fairy dust involved?  hawthorn-40 hawthorn-33-side
hawthorn-12 hawthorn-49When I first came to Ireland Thomas fed me stories of fairy trees. Telling me of the ones that grew on his father's farm that they dared not trim for fear of inciting the fairies wrath and more inconveniently growing trees that had required building plans to be re-worked because no one dared uproot the trees. It's said that cutting down a hawthorn tree would result in very bad luck. While most legends are distant and the superstitions have faded, fairy tree superstitions persist. It's one of the few legends that you can still feel and witness today. I might not have spotted the Fairy Queen emerging from one of these trees, like Thomas the Rhymer, but seeing them throughout the countryside makes me think she might one day slip out of the blossoms and into a buttercup dotted field.  hawthorn-37-side hawthorn-22 hawthorn-39
So these rather humble wildflowers will always hold a special place in my heart. I also love the way the blossoms completely cover the tree, blooming on nearly every side and angle of the branches. At their height you can barely see the green leaves beneath the flowers and the branches always grow in the most unkempt, natural angles. We spotted this short one in a field near our home, a taller white hawthorn stands beside it and behind (as you can see in the picture below) was a blossoming horse chestnut tree.  I think the chestnut is another underrated blossom. The blossoms look rather simple and cream-colored far from away, but if you get close they're full of vivid colors and peculiar shapes. I would love to photograph a chestnut in blossom properly one year, but at least this year I captured a wee glimpse of what they look like. There's so many tiny seasons within seasons and fleeting wildflowers in this region. So many things bloom and fade before you can manage to blink, capturing photographs of them is a way of freezing spring and trapping something ephemeral in your hands forever. There are no fairies, but it's a sort of magic.hawthorn-42 hawthorn-44


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