No, this isn’t an autobiography, although it would be a good title for one. And many would say that’s sort of the state we’re in right now….
’Tis nut-gathering season in my little corner of the world. Some of the native species that contribute to the harvest include pecans, certain hickories, and hazelnuts. But the moneymaker is the black walnut.
In my unemployed youth, black walnuts literally provided the money I needed to buy Christmas presents. Every fall there would be at least one day that I’d rise before dawn, dress in layers, and pack myself, a jug of water, and a sandwich into the old pickup truck.
I’d then drive out to our stands of walnut trees to begin picking up nuts from the ground just as it began getting light enough to see (it’s nice to be able to tell the difference between a nut and a rock before you pick it up). I would do this all day long, shedding layers as the temperatures grew warmer, and not quit until I ran out of either nuts or daylight.
The activities of the day included climbing trees that some nuts were still attached to in order to shake them off (I include this in my long list of Things I Survived from My Childhood). Five-gallon bucketful by five-gallon bucketful, I’d dump walnuts into the bed of that pickup truck until it was (hopefully) heaping full.
Within a day or two afterwards, I’d enlist the aid of a licensed driver to take that pickup to the feed mill where the huller was set up every year. I’d shovel nuts into the trays of a conveyer belt that dumped them into a masher to remove the green(ish) hulls and deposit those to one side. The nuts, their shells blackened from the squishy hulls (thus the name) dribbled into mesh bags that got weighed.
And then I was paid my hard-earned money.
These days my nut gathering is confined to home use, but a trip down memory lane prompts one to contemplate the present. In a nutshell it would appear that 2020 is the year of going nuts. Travail hit us early, we’ve been shaken from our complacency, and it looks like there’s still a long haul ahead.
Good news, folks, we’ve weathered storms like this before.
Our youth may add the year 2020 to the long list of Things I Survived from My Childhood, but this blotch within history-in-the making should eventually pass like all the others. We just have to keep hauling those nuts by the bucketful until the day comes we get “paid our hard-earned money.”
After all, every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground….