by Curt Kovener
November rains always bring cold. And with the opening of gun season for deer on Saturday and a steady cold rain, I opted not to spend much time at the usually quiet wilderness retreat.
After getting caught up and even accomplishing some advanced office work, I remembered some hickory nuts I had picked up earlier and continued the tedious project of getting enough of the main ingredient for a Thanksgiving hickory nut pie.
With the mid-September hurricane, I didn’t bother going to my usual collection site in the bottoms where large nuts are produced. I figured the wind jarred loose prematurely some of the crop and sorting the not-ready-to-drop from the ripe & ready naturally dropped would be difficult at best.
So I gathered some of the smaller crop produced in the wilderness hills.
I stayed warm and dry Saturday afternoon sitting in my office with a modified pair of side-cut pliers and snipped away at the hickory shells.
And I found the process beneficial much like mowing at the wilderness retreat: it gave me time to think about life, the events of the week, problems that needed solving, or to just be philosophical.
After a forceful squeeze cleaved the nut in half, then came the job of snipping away the shell from the nut meat. Sometimes it gave up willingly, sometimes it was more stubborn. Some refused to yield entirely. Kind of like we humans, I thought.
Sometimes the initial split revealed healthy fully developed fruit; sometimes nothing but dark, moldy withered insides. The outside of the nut looked good but sometimes the inside was not. I will leave it up to you to draw any human analogy.
While the smaller nuts have thinner shells, the production efficiency (to use an industrial term) is still rather low. When I get my 8 ounce plastic butter container filled, there is enough for a pie.
So far, the bottom of the container is well covered but I fear I will run out of time and rainy cold days to accomplish my mission.
A snip here, a snap there and sometimes a full half of a nut, sometimes small pieces & crumbs go into the cup. But like the tortoise & hare of Aesop fable fame, slow & steady fills the hickory nut cup.
The pie, however, gets devoured much faster.