My neighbor asked me if I knew who planted the walnut tree that is about 20 feet behind our fence on her property.
“Oh, Yes,” I said. Let me tell you a story…
We have a black walnut tree in our back yard. I have read that if you have one, keep it, but don’t ever plant one. This is curious. We inherited the tree when we purchased the house, and I really like the tree. But every year, one must be careful when walking into the back yard, because starting in August, it drops green balls a little smaller than a baseball, which turn yellow and get mushy. The tree produces well, and there are so many of them! On windy days one should not walk under the tree, for fear of getting hit on the head with one! We hear a continual “thump thump” as they hit the roof of our house. Inside that outer shell is a black walnut, but it is SO messy and the green stains your fingers so we never harvested them. Instead, it was our children’s job to pick up the walnuts and throw them into the field behind our yard. (That was before anyone lived there, of course) No doubt one of those walnuts sprouted and grew a tree there. On the other side of my neighbor’s property is a grove of walnut trees. My son recently asked me if I have ever noticed them. I hadn’t, because they are on the far side of the 5 acre property. Our son Cory claims that those trees got their start in the same way. Apparently, one of the friends of our son Matthew convinced him that they should build a potato gun and “shoot” the black walnuts instead of throwing them. I guess it was the cause of great fun, watching how far they could be propelled into the field. Years later, the walnut grove exists. Our neighbor who purchased the property, couldn’t be more happy with the trees.
Our children have grown and all have moved on except for one. The walnut tree in our backyard continues to grow and produce walnuts like clockwork every year. Now my husband and I are the ones in charge of picking up the walnuts by the bucketfuls and we don’t throw them over the fence any more, but haul them off to the transfer station. Two years ago, a couple of squirrels took up residence in or near our property, and they can be seen sitting on a tree limb stuffing themselves with walnuts. They peel off the outer shell, dropping it on the ground below, and find the nut inside. I was hoping they might eat the outer fleshy part, but no, unfortunately they do not!
Today is November 28th, the day after Thanksgiving. The leaves have fallen, the trees are barren, and we’ve spent previous weeks raking and picking up, even scooping up those now yellow balls with a big shovel. I felt guilty taking them to the transfer station. I should have left at least one bucketful for the squirrels, but I didn’t. This morning I looked out the window, and a squirrel caught my attention. There he sat high on a tree limb, eating a black walnut. My heart was so happy! I hope they have a stash of walnuts somewhere! Now as I look out my kitchen window, I look for the squirrels, and think of memories of my children, and how the walnut tree across the fence got it’s start.