About Me

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I received teaching and engineering degrees and have traveled extensively, living ten years outside the US. I moved from the big city of Houston to a small sleepy community in North Carolina, which has been a tremendous change and a great inspiration for my novels, full of the local color. My time has been filled with writing and helping to physically construct three additions to our former farmhouse. I have a great view of the mountains ten miles away across the broad valley and the sunsets are breathtaking. I am an avid reader of all kinds of mystery and contemporary fiction.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nuts! Nuts! Nuts!

Nuts! Nuts! Nuts!

This has been a grueling week of gathering nuts. I feel like a squirrel storing his nuts for the winter. The only difference is I think I worked harder for my nuts than the squirrel did.

When we planted our nut trees, we were told that some nuts you plant for yourself, some you plant for your children and others you plant for your grandchildren. I think we have those that should be planted for ourselves and some for the third generation. I’m not sure we have any in between.

About eight years ago, we planted four chestnut trees because my husband likes them. For the past several years, we have had chestnuts, chestnuts and more chestnuts. If you’ve ever tried getting chestnuts out of their hulls, you will sympathize with the hurt fingers I now have. Even though I used thick leather gloves, a few of the prickly spines penetrated the gloves to my fingers. Even the turkeys know better to eat only the ones that have dislodged themselves from the hulls. The deer also feast on the nuts. That should tell you how many chestnuts we have. My only use for them is to add to dressing at Thanksgiving. These chestnuts were definitely planted for us and our wildlife.

At the same time that we planted the chestnut trees, we also planted some Carpathian walnuts (the pictures looked like English walnuts), black walnuts, hickory nut and pecan trees. The hickory nut trees did not survive, so we planted some more a few years later. They are still only three feet tall. Since they grow to be over 30 feet tall, we will not see the fruits of our labor. The pecans died out a couple of years after we planted them and then recovered the following year. I don’t hold my breath for either of the walnut species or the pecans.

Black walnuts drying on driveway
However, a couple of black walnut trees are on the edge of our property. Up until last year, I had never seen a nut on the trees. It might have had something to do with the vines in North Carolina that are abundant and choke the life from trees. After some pruning and killing of the shrubs, last year we found one, yes, one, black walnut. This year, we collected over four dozen.

Two bad things about black walnuts are the hulls will turn one’s hands a dark yellow and the other is the nuts are so hard to crack that a normal nutcracker cannot do the trick. Unless your hands are really strong. Then I think you might break the nutcracker. I end up using a rock and a hammer to crack the hard shell. One other thing about black walnuts is that they have a strong taste. I usually like to eat them like they are; but, if I were going to bake with them, it would have to be something that the nuts would not overpower the additional taste.

That last nuts collected this week were hazelnuts. A couple of trees were planted eight years ago and have yet to produce any nuts. However, we planted a tree a couple of years ago and it produced a few last year and more this year. I was surprised that it did so well here in North Carolina, but I figure since my local nursery sold the tree, then it must be for this climate.

After recalling the aches and pains associated with collecting these nuts, I am looking forward to enjoying them.

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