The Fall of Walnuts

Walnuts 09-26-2014I couldn’t figure out what the sound was: “THUD! Rumble, rumble, rumble rumble, splat!” or “Boink!”

Then it dawned on me: it was fall, and the walnuts around Mother’s house were proving that the Law of Gravity hadn’t been repealed.” The “THUD!” was a super-sized green golf ball hitting the roof. The “Rumble, rumble, rumble rumble, splat!” was the nut rolling down the pitched room and hitting the ground. The “Boink!” was it rolling off the roof and hitting the top or hood of my van.

I went out to try to round up as many walnuts as possible so Mother could mow the yard, but the blasted things were falling about as fast as I could rake them up. It sounded like I was at the wrong end of a driving range. “Plop,” “splat,” “thud” all around me, some coming uncomfortably close.

We found out that our pine cone picker-uppers were great for grabbing individual nuts without bending over.

Walnut suicide pacts?

Walnuts 09-26-2014Not only were they dropping all around me, but they were dropping in pairs. I don’t know if one would hit another one on the way down, causing them both to fall, if they all got tired of holding onto the tree at the same time, or if walnuts have weird suicide pacts with the neighbors – “if you go, I’ll go.”

No fond memories of walnuts

Walnuts 09-26-2014I don’t have fond memories of walnuts as a kid. Pecans are clean and easy: you pick them up off the ground, you crack them like this, then you pick them out. No muss, no fuss.

Walnuts, on the other hand, are shy nuts. You have to get the green outside husk off them before you can get to the dark shell hiding the meat. Over the years, we tried all kinds of ways to remove the green husks.

We put them in the driveway and ran over them with the cars. Pretty much all that did was to cover the driveway with walnut stain. After that, we tried putting them out in the street. That just meant we had to chase them all over the neighborhood.

Then, Dad got the bright idea of drilling various size holes in boards. We were to pick a hole the size we thought the black nut would be and pound the thing through the hole, hopefully leaving the husk behind. I think I was a junior in college when I finally wore the stain off my fingers (or maybe the Dektol paper developer stains covered the walnut stains).

They are not an easy nut to crack, and they aren’t fun to pick out, either. I guess I’ll keep throwing them over the fence behind us or putting them in the garbage can, whichever is the shorter walk.



7 Replies to “The Fall of Walnuts”

  1. Ken, you brought back some vivid memories of family walnut “picking” that I had tried to suppress. yes, the aftermath of filling the bushel baskets mean “cleaning” them. they were a tuff-nut to crack! Do you remember the handy little picks (that looked a lot like a dental pick)we used to dig out the stubborn pieces that didn’t want to come out of the shell? I like pecans better as well. just not sure how to pronounce it as we travel around the country…

    Walnuts and crabapples were plentiful and made great ammunition if you DARED TO TRESPASS on to 1950s Luce Street without an invitation! You could be ‘fired on’ from several strategic elevated locations including: the huge trees in the vacant lot (aka- Brune Ball Park), on top of the detached garage (with the car sized hole through the back wall) behind Brune’s house, or from the Fort (aka Brune’s large screened in front porch – that never had screens). How did you THINK all the Brune Boys developed those accurate baseball & QB throwing arms? Ha Ha ! Heaven forbid there was also snow on the ground to pack around those walnuts and crab apples!!

  3. And if you were LUCKY ENOUGH to be warned off by a ‘near miss’……… that was no accident!! There would have been ‘hell to pay’ at Brune evening supper – if we actually ‘hit’ any of the trespassers!! Ha Ha!

  4. We used a hammer, a brick and bare hands and my hands took most of the winter to get back to normal.

    Hagen Dazs at one time made black walnut ice cream that was to die for.
    Some of us are trying to get it back in rotation.

  5. I too spent many hours as a kid sitting on the steps cracking black walnuts with a big rock. So many, in fact, that I can’t stand them as an adult!

  6. When I was a kid on Whitener Street in Cape Girardeau, one of our neighbors had a large walnut tree. We kids would gather the nuts still in the green husks and use them to write on sidewalks and the street and, of course, to throw at each other. The walnut tree neighbors were constantly getting onto us kids for making a mess. When we moved up to North Georgia, Jerry was delighted with all the black walnut trees. He spent two winters digging the nutmeats out but we could never get all the tiny shards of shell out of whatever we put the nuts in. Now the squirrels get all the walnuts they want and more. We’re over them.

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