October 08, 2003

Memo for Next October:

Don't bother gathering walnuts until after the first freeze of the season.

In one hour (while we were away in town) 75% of all our walnuts fell thudding to the ground, along with most of the feather-like compound leaves, making a most untidy cluttering as if a massive wind had swept through, but only rattled the walnut trees. It happened well after sun-up after a night with temperatures in the mid-twenties down in this valley where cold settles hard. The gravel road was literally edge to edge lumpy with walnuts when we rounded the bend approaching the house-- the proverbial bumper crop. I wish I'd been here to see this extravaganza, but from a safe distance, mind you. A man could be killed in that one hour of falling nuts the size of baseballs, but I can think of worse ways to go.

I easily filled a half dozen 5-gallon buckets with the green nuts in the husk-- a mere tithe from what is probably three hundred gallons of nuts yet on the ground under the crowns of the four trees by the garden. As if we needed more dehusked nuts than the passing cars would leave us on the road, I poured these six bucketsful of green baseballs out in the graveled space where we park the cars; we'll dehusk them with the front tires over the next week or so. Conceivably, we'll get around to picking the nuts from the husks soon, but this is not certain, and the word 'hoarding' comes to mind in my obsession to gather more than we can use.

We have a walnut cracker that's been with us for decades, a product I think from one of the Inquisitions... a wormscrew cranking affair that in the end will crack even the toughest nut. From a coffee can of broken shells of former tough nuts I picked a mere half cup of brainshaped pieces of actual walnut. I hate to think of the effort-to-product ratio for those few ounces of fragrant seed. As I tediously picked specks of oily nut from bonehard casings with a homemade nut pick, I had the momentary illusion that I was the only worker in a nutty sheltered workshop.

I can't say why I'm so driven toward walnut rescue this year. It can't be just about the walnut pound cakes Ann will make in January, although there is that. Maybe I'm responding to some latent squirrelly anticipation of a hard winter ahead. Or it could be simply that, in light of this year's bounty, when opportunity knocks, it just seems right to answer. As my ol' mammy always told me, "for free, take. For buy, waste time".

If anybody is interested, we're having a "pick your own" walnut gathering from now until the squirrels have hid all remaining nuts. And if you don't mind, please BYOB (paper or plastic?)

Posted by fred1st at October 8, 2003 07:10 AM | TrackBack

I have experienced the sounds of War!
As the walnuts fell around Goose Creek it was raining Hickory nuts here. Everyyear about this time life on the pond gets really loud. The walnuts fall on the pop up camper that my neighbor bought then used once. The plastic roof of the camper makes a nice base drum for the striking walnuts. Here at the house, the hickory nuts hit the roof above the kitchen. Since my shack is just one big room I am in the drum. I lost count of the number of times it woke me up last night with a start. The trick is to get up as soon as the first one wakes you and head to the bathroom. It is the only way to keep your sheets dry. I have all the nuts I need but I will be happy to meet you at Fred's to fill your bags with nuts. Maybe I will bring some cornbread and potatos in my dutch ovens.

Posted by: Seth at October 8, 2003 08:49 AM

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