Walnuts Keep Falling on My Head

We’re coming up another Mother Birthday Season without the guest of honor. One of the things I’ve become almost used to are the sounds of a house that is empty except for me.

It used to startle me when I’d hear a BAM! like someone trying to break into the house. That would be followed by a RUMBLE, RUMBLE, RUMBLE, SPLAT.

After awhile, I learned to identify that as the sound of walnuts hitting the roof, rolling down, then hitting the ground or driveway. In fact, it makes me think of the paraphrased lines of a B.J. Thomas song:

Walnuts keep falling on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red
Crying’s not for me
‘Cause, I’m never gonna stop the walnuts by complaining

Because I’m free
Nothing’s worrying me

Winning the liability lottery

Warriorette Shari came down from St. Louis for the weekend and griped about the walnuts all over the driveway. I told her it was part of my long-range financial plan to have her slip and fall, collect a huge insurance payout (which she would, of course, split with me), and figure she had won the liability lottery.

She rewarded me with The Look.

While I was sweeping them up, it made me think of past dealings with the green bombs.

Dad got the great idea that we should round up all the the nuts that fell in the yard, crack the shells and spend the winter picking out the goodies.

There’s one big problem

The big problem with that is that the walnuts are encased in a hard, green husk that has to be removed first. That ain’t easy. We tried all kinds of ways.

Putting them out in the street to let cars run over them just meant that you had to chase up the hill, down the hill and in the ditches on either side of the road after they had squirted off in every direction.

Then, he got a great idea: he bored several sized holes in a 2×6 board. We were supposed to select a hole slightly smaller than the husk, then drive it through the hole with a hammer, leaving the husk on one side and the nut on the other.

The nut, unfortunately, was the guy holding the hammer. You’ve heard of walnut stain, haven’t you? Well, there’s a reason for calling it that. I think I was about 42 years old before all of the stain wore off. I tried to convince people it was Dektol developer stain from the making prints in the darkroom because that sounded somewhat professional.

Are you nuts for nuts?

So, here’s the deal. If you have a hankering for walnuts, I have a yard full of them. Some of them have been herded together, but there are probably a bushel or two in the wild scattered all over the yard. Come and get ’em. (If you want me to answer the door with pants on, I suggest you give me a 10-minute warning.)

I just remembered that I had written about walnuts in 2014, and had plowed much the same ground. Nothing much has changed since then. You can click on any of the photos to make them larger, then use your arrow keys to navigate around.

We were a pecan family

Because walnuts were so hard to crack, and it was no fun to pick them out, we were more of a pecan family. Dad’s favorite winter pastime was sitting in the basement picking out pecans while watching TV.

In later years, Mother took over the task.


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.



Adcock Is Nuts About Pecans

Adcock Pecans - Tifton GA 07-24-2014Wife Lila asked me to keep my eyes open for pecans. When I left the motel in Tifton, Georgia, this morning I noticed a sign that said Adcock Pecans and Peanuts “handful or truckloads.”

After an excellent breakfast of waffles and country ham at Waffle House, I asked some of the folks in there if Adcock had good deals or it they were just a tourist trap.

The concensus was that they had been around forever, but it wasn’t someplace that locals go. There are too many pecan trees around for anybody to pay for them, one man pointed out.

Better not buy them

Adcock Pecans - Tifton GA 07-24-2014When I walked into the place, which was about the size of a football field, if not longer, I encountered table after table of really pretty pecans and other goodies. I called Wife Lila to ask if she wanted me to get any.

She said the price was “okay, but not great.” On second thought, she said, don’t buy them: by the time they get hauled all over the country in a hot car, they probably wouldn’t be any good.

“It’s the same car I’m going to be riding in,” I objected.

There was a long, long pause. I got the point.

Here is a link to the Adcock website, if you are interested.


Mother’s Gone Nuts

I mentioned the other day that Mother and I picked up pecans in Dutchtown on one of our jaunts. As soon as we got home, she dug out the Rocket Nutcracker that’s been cracking Steinhoff pecans for better than half a century. She clamped it in the vise on Dad’s workbench and went to digging in the basement food cupboard he built at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Before long she found the very same cigar box and nut pick he used sitting his recliner, watching TV and filling jar after jar with nuts.

Metal fatigue caused handle to break

The metal fatigue from cracking thousands of nuts eventually caused the handle to break, but that didn’t stop Dad. He just welded the handle back on.

You can buy one that looks just like this one except that it has a wooden handle at the end. 

She’s ready for more

I figured cracking and picking out the nuts would keep her off the street this weekend, but, no, she got them all cracked and picked out in about four days. She’s ready to go out picking up more.

Pecan cracking photo gallery

Here’s a gallery of photos of Mother hard at work cracking pecans. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.