Two Bees Wine

Monday, October 16, 2006

A side note: the walnut harvest!

We don’t have grapes to gather on the property (though some hardy vines thrive along the fence line and supply us with an assortment of mystery varietals good for eating if you don’t mind spitting out seeds). But we do have walnuts, and autumn also cues their debut.

The September prognosis of an anemic yield this year was too hasty. Perhaps the rush of crows pecking the still-green orbs from the treetops fueled rumors of a poor walnut season. So did the ratio of hollow shells versus whole nuts at the feet of the 2 trees – at least initially. The single day of rain a few weeks ago seemed to lob the final blow; any hangers-on would turn moldy and end up as burrows for ants and pincher bugs.

But then one day we noticed beneath our neighbors’ tree a carpet of walnuts, perfectly intact, their green casings shed and buried under fallen leaves. We wondered what illness had stricken our trees?

A skeptical double-check proved miraculous. Russet-colored wrinkled globes, unscathed and naked without their green sheathes, littered the shadow beneath our smaller tree. I stooped to gather handfuls of them into my shirt, but needed a satchel. Foraging required no more than lightly brushing aside leaves to reveal the nuts, as though they had been tossed generously from a parade float like candy.

Through my rubber flip flops, the shells could have been river rocks pressing into my soles. I felt like a robber with too-easy pickings as I moved between both trees, almost guilty at how easily I collected a bushel basket of the loot, then another. At the same time, the thought of overlooking any of the perfect nuts seemed an unpardonable crime.

They’re in the house now, near the wine barrel. A couple of weeks’ time will dry the nuts, firm up their prize interiors, and enrich their earthy toastiness. This vintage 2006 crop, at least, will soon be ready to enjoy.


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