Both sets of my grandparents grew up during the Great Depression. Having done so, their collecting balls of rubber bands that would eventually snap gummily of age upon the slightest stretch was unsurprising.
My paternal grandfather, in a similar vein, would collect black walnuts when he found them and would save them in a large brown paper bag. It was an afternoon event as he carried the bulky bundle out to the sidewalk in the backyard. I watched and as I got older would help to remove the thick outer green skins. You would wait until they were a rotting black color and they would peel off fairly easily. Sometimes there would be little worms embedded between this heavy overcoat and the black shell underneath. Eew! I shutter to think of it now (and then, too!). I would scream, give those few to him, and would tentatively move onto the next one. By the way, this kind of aniticipatory wormy fear extended to August peeling of corn on the cob from their papery green covers and silky hairs. My gosh, we '70's kids lived on the edge!
O.K., so back to the black walnuts. My Grandpa Peacock would hammer, hammer away at those hard black shells. I actually hated that loud racket and thought it was way too much hard work for the reward. However, my grandpa enjoyed the process, whistling away, singularly focused on the task at hand. And you know, those walnuts did have a wonderful taste...a tad more acidic and biting, but more flavorful, too, eaten alone or eventually in a coffeecake. And as in most things, the hard work made them all the more delicious and appreciated.
Lately, in an alley across the street, the walnuts have been littering themselves on the scene and are in their final stage of availability to both squirrels and humans. It made me think, I'm running our of time to get this painting done, so here you go, a green pair starting to decay on the branch.
Back at the end of September, I snapped a few photos of black walnuts littering the sidewalk one block from my house. My Grandpa Peacock would have been happy at the sight.
Here's what I'm talking about--that rotted green color. The perfect time to get those walnuts out of their outermost layer. This photo is from hickory hollow farm blogspot.