The Last Really Good Shack #37 – Black Walnut Season

The Last Really Good Shack - porch

black walnuts<

The heavy thud of black walnuts falling to the damp ground is a constant for a few weeks in the fall.
I didn’t know anything about this particular variety of tree nut until we moved to northwest Arkansas. Having spent my childhood in pecan country, Texas and south Arkansas, where even the standard walnut seemed a little foreign and exotic- the black walnut was completely new to me.
When I first saw the big green globes hanging in the trees, I actually speculated that they were a variety of bois d’arc or horse apples as we called them when we were kids. Didn’t take long to figure out that they were a nut under all that green hull and that they dye your fingers a dark walnut color pretty quickly when you pick a few up off the ground.

Of all the trees in the Ozarks, black walnut trees are not the most gorgeous tree in the woods. They can be straggly and rangy looking, the last to set leaves in the spring and the first to show yellow and fall in autumn. Their occupation is to create these hard to crack nuts and then rest for the balance of the year.

We had several on our property, and I must say, one of the nicest looking black walnuts was on the northwest side of the shack. It was not crowded by any other trees, far enough away from the huge white oaks in front and just enough room from the tree lined fence on the north part of the dog yard.
Each season, for however long it chose, it was a full and quite nice shade tree, airy and lacey, given dappled light to the yard swing and perennial lily bed. Bob would sit on the step at that end of the porch, while I sat in the swing and listened to him play his guitar, or we would play ball with the dogs in the shade of that walnut tree.

A cottage industry springs up in the fall as the nuts ripen. A local company will buy the nuts from anyone who shows up with a bag or truck load. So many an afternoon along the narrow Ozarks roads, you will see folks with sacks or buckets retrieving the fallen nuts.
In autumn, when the harvest began, a young family would drive slowly up our little lane, the dad driving and the mom and her two youngsters would pick up the fallen walnuts. Tossing them into the trunk or one year in the back of the station wagon, they would pick the road clean. Each year when they came by, they would ask if they could gather the walnuts from our tree. Of course, that was always fine and we welcomed them each season.

I always hoped it would help them – this was a hard way to earn money. When you took the walnuts to sell, they would place them in a spinning hopper to release the nut from the hull. Once that was done, the nuts were weighed and you were paid $11.00 for one hundred pounds! That took a whole lot of nuts in the back of a station wagon to bring home $11.00.

With each gust of wind, I hear the heavy thuds – its black walnut time in the Ozarks.

**** Dear Readers, I know it has been too long between stories of the shack. I am in the process of editing the previous stories and The Last Really Good Shack will soon have its own blog. I hope you will continue to read and enjoy these little snippets of our life in the Ozarks.
Thanks, Kathleen

The Kitchen Song

The Kitchen Song

She loves him sweet and tender
She loves him with pies and cake
She loves him with buttery little biscuits
The kind she likes to bake.

She loves him good and hearty
She loves him with beef stew
She loves him with ribs and goulash
And rich bowls of thick burgoo.

She loves him hot and spicy
She loves him with red cayenne
She loves him with jalapeno peppers
And secret recipes from the Yucatan.

She loves him dark and steamy
She loves him with coffee and cream
She loves him with Earl Grey and Oolong
And toddies spiked with Jim Beam.

She loves him in so many ways
She loves him the best she can
She loves him sweet and good and hot,
Her sweet talkin’ everlovin’ man.

— This is an old poem written for Bob as a Valentine one year. Still one of my silliest and one of my favorites. I hope you won’t mind if I re-post it again today.
Sending you hearts and flowers and a day filled with love! K

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

A whirling galaxy of starlings
At sunset on Christmas Eve.

Star – lings
(a bright name for such a dark and dusky bird)

A murmuration of stars
Sweeping the darkening night,
Making a moving path
For the Milky Way.

— The Course of Our Seasons  AuthorHouse Publishing 2011

Check this video out — amazing starlings murmuration (full HD) -www.keepturningleft.co.uk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eakKfY5aHmY&feature=share via @youtube

The Dark Night

The Dark Night

Fear invades, pervades, masquerades in calm seas,
Tossed into sets of broken dreams, unseamed hems
Of garments rent in grief.  No sweet hand of relief
To a burning brow, to wipe unshed tears
Across the bruised cheek.  Dissonant hymns
Of grace rejected, bounce from cellar to steeple.
Flags sway in changing breeze to catch the sharper
Wind, not seen but felt on skin whose
Pallor has moved from gray to gray, undone by
The aspect of different circumstance and need.
What has truly changed, nothing. Nothing but
Possibilities and options, the  awareness
Of the nearness and the dark night.

Running With Scissors

Running With Scissors

For C

Running with scissors is her M O, not caring
the tearing that her soul brings to the fore.
Silver flashing blades of grass beneath her feet,
grasping the consequences of all her actions.
Moving through Time and Dreams,
her mother’s voice is calling,
calling, calling to the future of what was
and will not be again.  The remembrance
of remorse and tears unshed, of grief,
freely given and taken, when all that is left
is love, forgiveness, and unanswered prayer.

— Kathleen G. Everett  © 2012

Rose Petals * * * Litany of Life

Shattered petals fall
Scattered confetti of pink silk
Roses after the rain.

*

*

Deep as blood the sap moves
thru the branches to each new bud.
Life reaches  forward, upward and out-
life redeems life – a resurrection of now.
Every living thing breathes
the newness and promise of more.
Living is moving -living is seizing the air-
singing molecules of being through each pore,
to the unknown song ,
the holy litany of life.

Kathleen G. Everett © 2012

The Last Really Good Shack 26

I was driving home with my mom last week and our road off the ridge had a short space where the trees had touched overhead to form a tunnel. And mom reminded me of the road down to the shack – she said that was one of her favorite things in the summer – the tree tunnel all the way to our home.
That road turned off a state highway about a mile and a half north of the house and ran along side a creekbed on the west side of the road. It was a gentle slope along the hollow between the two ridges; a dirt and gravel road, well maintained by the county, and ran all the way down to Spring Creek. Once the only road south to Rogers, AR, it is still called the Old Rogers Road on some maps.
We found out the history of our area as we learned more about our road. The roadside along the  creekbed was reinforced by a solidly built stone wall. As we explored the creek, we found an inscription on one of the stones explaining that this wall had been built by the WPA. So this was one of the road projects in the 1930′s that helped men make a living during the Depression’s hard times. I admired the wall even more once I considered the hardships that these men must have faced in this area during the Depression. Never an easy place to scratch a living, the Ozarks must have been hit even harder during those years.
We began to visit with the folks that lived down the road. I mentioned one of them in an early post, our neighbor whose son sold us the shack and who would stop and share a beer with Bob on hot summer afternoons. His wife told us that this road was used by both armies of the Union and the Confederacy during the days of the Battle of Pea Ridge. The armies marched and rested alongside the creek. And the spring house in their yard was used to house the wounded as the armies moved south. Artifacts of the battle would occasionally turn up in the villiage’s garden plots or newly dug foundations. Bullets, buckles and buttons were common but the most unusual was a cannonball that had to have the bomb squad come out from Rogers. We never found anything other than a few old bottles or broken china on our land.
We loved the road and would walk it with the dogs every day, looking for new wildflowers or roses in bloom. I would gather rose hips for autumn arrangements and we would pick blackberries in the sunny spots. Each fall a family would come by gathering black walnuts to sell at the villiage farm store. They would always politely ask to come on our property to pick up the hard round nuts and we would happily agree.
In the summer, the road was a tunnel of trees from the state highway to the north, all the way to the beginning of our property. As the road made a gentle curve to the left, our home on the side of the ridge, would come into view. Then as you passed to the southern property line, the trees would again fold over the road.
The temperature would drop by 5 to10 degrees as the road descended down the hollow. It was wonderful in the hottest time of the summer to roll down the windows and breathe in the cooler air.
And then in those hot summer nights, the trees would be filled with fireflies! So thick it would seem to be strings of fairy lights illuminating the road. Absolutely magical! Add a  few children, our nieces and nephew or friend’s kids, and you would really have an enchanting scene. We would walk under that tree tunnel, covered in the glimmering lights of the fireflies, and could almost see our shadows.

I can still see the children’s faces looking up in wonder at the trees. A beautiful memory shared by everyone who walked that road.  Until next time….