Jack, Gemma and I swished through the carpet of fallen leaves this morning, on our way to the bottom of the garden.
Our destination… the pecan nut tree.
Round about this time last year we started looking at houses. The very first house we went to see had a gorgeous garden. Having lived in a complex for more than nine years, after a cursory look inside my lovely husband and I made a bee line for the leafy green area outside.
Crunch crunch went something underfoot. I raised an eyebrow at the estate agent.
Pecan nuts, she replied.
I looked at my man… we must have this house. And so we bought a pecan nut tree!
Of course, by the time we moved in a few months later, most of the pecan nuts were finished – just the odd solitary one clinging to the bare branches above.
We watched and waited with baited breath. Slowly, but indeed surely, the bare branches turned to leafy green boughs. Teensy green bud-like things eventually appeared. These too grew slowly, oh so very very slowly.
The first few nuts fell early in April. We pounced on them. However, green nuts do not taste so fabulous. After a few weeks the quality of the nuts that dropped improved – they ripened to perfection. Fresh off-the-tree pecan nuts taste beyond divine.
The washing line is down by the pecan nut tree and I had this stupid little OCD thing going on in my head – every time I went down there – I needed to come back with a nut, or three, or maybe even four.
Slowly the coffee tins in the kitchen overflowed and bags of nuts were dispensed to people deemed worthy of sharing in our bounty.
This week, the end of May 2018, we had rain – twice – not really what you’d expect when it’s almost winter in Pretoria.
It rained nuts too. Literally. Not one, but two 500ml tubs were filled to overflowing on one single gathering.
This morning Jack, Gemma and I braved the elements and went down to the tree to do a nut inspection. Gemma immediately snagged a pecan nut and weaseled her “worsie” way under the Wendy house to crunch her loot. (We inherited Gemma the sausage dog with the house. She’s fond of pecan nuts – although unlike her previous owners, we don’t feed her vegan food – so she’s not as hungry as she was last year.)
Jack and I were in mortal danger – the nuts were crashing down around us as we gathered. Jack, in his usual catly fashion, was leaping around trying to catch them as they bounced around on the ground.
We’ve had conversations before about being smacked on the head by a plummeting nut. In fact Luan (aka vetboy) offered to hurl one at me, which I not-so-politely declined. Am sure one would feel a bit like Chicken-Licken when the sky fell on his head.
Collecting nuts is a bit like spotting wildlife in the bush. They lie nicely nestled amongst the leaves – camouflaged. Often a bump underfoot indicates that you’re standing on one that’s been sneakily lurking in plain sight.
Isn’t that enough to crunch it – you ask?
No. It’s my test for the ones that feel suspiciously light (usually indicates they’re bad). A healthy nut does not crunch under my weight on the soil.
Of course it’s compulsive and one’s eyes search further and further afield. This resulted in my getting a boot full of Gemma poop the other day – also camouflaged amongst the leaves.
This cold, wet morning I piled our muddy bounty onto the garden bench.
Jack jumped up and looked at me. Like really? You’re just going to leave them there? Alone? He started pawing at the nuts – sending them zooting around the wet planks, whizzing back down to earth!
One can always count on Jack to assist – no matter what the task.
And all the while we were supervised by our four resident hadedas at the other end of the garden.
A tad frozen, we returned inside to write this blog. Once again Jack pitched in. He jumped onto my desk, tracked muddy paw-prints all over the place (the mouse is still making nasty scrunchy noises as I move it). He then proceeded to note his comments on a piece of paper next to my laptop.
He washed himself, ordered pizza from Domino’s, then curled up and went to sleep in his usual spot… my “In tray”.
Every now and then the cracking sound of a pecan nut hitting the corrugated iron roof of the Wendy house has him extracting his head from his bushy tail and sleepily starting at me – wondering if he should go off and investigate or not.
It’s just the pecan nuts Jack, I tell him. Nothing to worry your furry little knickers about.
He tucks his head under his tail again and goes back to his twitchy slumber.