Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Today turned out to be really pretty and this afternoon I did something I haven’t done since I was a child. I harvested pecans-a precious commodity in any economy.

It brought back memories…Mama would drive around town to trees on public property or to long forgotten trees tucked away in obscure corners of the county. We would pick up pecans till we had filled whatever containers we had with us or until the ground was bare. We had this sturdy nutcracker mounted on a piece of board and she would make Daddy shell those blessed things. Not his favorite chore although he enjoyed the benefits. Later local pecan houses would offer to crack pecans for a small fee. We would still have to pick them out. They would go in bags and into the freezer to use year-round.

My block boasts quite a variety of pecan trees, just like any old Southern neighborhood should have. I started out on a little strip of land between the sidewalk and the street at the far end of the block. These are a small variety, but they are quite tasty if you have the patience to crack them.

Sunday, my next door neighbor offered any of the nuts from their backyard for the taking. A huge tree straddles the property line between them and the small apartment building next door. I did not want to raid their yard, so I raided the apartments instead. Half of the apartments are empty, so I didn’t feel guilty at all about it. They should appreciate that I raked their driveway while I was at it.

We are expecting rain in the next couple of days and they would surely be lost if I did not rescue them from the threat of wet, compacted leaves. It is also a race against the squirrels that seem to enjoy tormenting me daily by digging up my herbs and pansies to stash their little treasures. They have fewer to choose from after today.

Next I picked up the ones that have fallen into my driveway. Those are all mine with no guilt. There is a tree from my other neighbor's yard that leans over my backyard and even over a portion of my deck. I had thought these would be the easiest of all to gather as they should just fall to the deck. But they didn’t thrive like the other trees around and I think Maisy’s nemesis, the squirrels, plucked whatever good ones were to be had from that source.

For at least a couple of hours it was like hunting for tiny little camouflaged Easter eggs. And the click, then thud of another cluster falling to the ground taunted me, daring me to find it. I searched until the light would no longer let me distinguish leaf from nut. I will return. My work is not done.

And, yes, this is a regular sized grocery shopping basket almost full of my day’s work. Wonder if there is someone around who would crack them for me? I don't think I can talk Daddy into it even if he were able. I wish I knew where that old nutcracker was.


Julia Wood said...

This brings back memories for me, too. We had a HUGE pecan tree in our yard in Decatur. My parents even had a pecan picker upper thingy so they wouldn't have to stoop over to get them. We took them somewhere to be cracked, too. On our trip to Decatur Friday we commented on the tree - still there, but it hasn't been trimmed in the last 5 years. It's getting way out of control.

jano said...

What a wonderful day! I remember sitting & shelling pecans for my mother. Daddy would take a hammer & crack them for us. A local produce place might crack them for you for a small fee. I bought some pecan pieces this week for $6 a pound, which was very reasonable. The place I usually get them wanted $11 a pound. Look how much you saved!!

Lisa A said...

I spent an hour watching tv last night and cracked a cup's worth of them. Got lots more to go!