We’ve got the world’s best black walnut tree in the back yard of our current house. He (or she) sits in our back yard, just this side of the shed. Each year he’s the last one to get his leaves and first to lose them. I suspect he’s lazy like me. He’s not nearly as tall as the half-dozen or so other walnut trees in the area, but he’s tall enough. If we were to live here forever, I’d probably build a fort near his trunk for the boys. He’s grown a bit in the last seven years and he, along with the maple we planted in the front yard, are about as close to a friend a man can get when mowing the grass on a hot summer afternoon and looking for a touch of shade. We’ve even had a picnic in our own back yard last year, under our walnut tree. Every fall, except for one, I think we’ve had a bumper crop of walnuts grow on “our” tree. If you’ve never seen a walnut, their “husk” (if that’s the right word) makes them look like big green balls hanging from the branches of the tree. Eventually they fall on the soft grass and clover below; usually during a big storm or as Fall creeps in to lay waste to everything Summer offers up to her. Most years I collect up the walnuts and toss them in the woods. One year a squirrel planted one under our deck and it grew into a baby tree. I promptly transplanted it and in doing so, sealed its fate. It died within a few weeks.
I’ve read how you plant walnuts to get them to grow into saplings. I even tried my hand at it last fall. All I accomplished was turning my hands black. You see, when you take off the green husk, the moisture inside the walnut turns black when exposed to oxygen. If it’s on your hands, your hands turn black and even turpentine won’t take the stain off. I’ve been shuttling nuts, like Noah and his Ark, from our walnut tree to the land for the last 16 months. Usually I toss them into the preservation areas and figure nature can take its course. I have yet to see a squirrel which may or may not be good I suppose. They say, if you want to want grow black walnuts, plant two plots: one for the squirrels to dig up and eat. The other plot for the squirrels to dig up and forget where they re-buried them.
Tonight we made our daily trek out to the land. Wife, kids and me. And as we’ve been known to do, we brought along some souvenirs for the new house and the land. James had gathered up some treasure today at the current house and he could be seen dragging a tan plastic bucket across the drive of the new house. Inside one could see about twenty-four 2″ diameter green nuts.
In my dream of dreams, if I can somehow manage to get one viable sapling, from one nut, from our black walnut tree, I think I’d cry with joy. Excluding marrying my wife, having our two kids, and picking out our grey cat, I suspect growing a descendant of our black walnut tree on our new land would surpass any other accomplishment I can think of in my lifetime.
So it was with much skepticism and one and a half ounces of hope that I dug about fifteen little holes in various parts of our property. And a little blond boy dropped 2″ diameter orbs into said holes. I gently covered each with soil.
So we’ll see what happens.
They say the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you will never rest. I’d be happy with just seeing a tree emerge. Technically I could last long enough to see our nut turn into a full size tree but more importantly I’d have successfully brought a piece of our friend with us to the new house. We’ll have that continuation which is so critical in life. Connecting the past and future. Hell, maybe I’ll get lucky and when they go to scatter my ashes, they can drop a handful around a tree whose seed I planted way back in 2011.
Here are pics from today. Enjoy.