Wild About - Black Walnuts (Really Wild, Maybe Just Plain Nuts!)
At 8 pm on Halloween night, MacGyver mentions to me that he thinks he found a black walnut tree. He had thought that this was a vaguely interesting piece of information, something to note for next year's foraging. He didn't quite expect to see my cartoon google-eyes reaction.
Black walnuts? Black flippin' walnuts? My all-time favorite nut, loaded with intense flavor and memories of eating them from my grandpa's tree in Iowa? A tree that isn't native to my home state? Those black walnuts?
So next, he says to me, do you want to go pick some now?
You see, the nuts were 150 miles away, and as I mentioned before, it was 8 at night after a long and full holiday. That's a long drive. It was late. The nuts might already be gone. Decisions decisions.
And you know what swung it for me? My Gran. My Gran was an adventurer of the highest order. She answered every question with a yes. Gran, do you want to try eating grasshoppers? Yes. Gran, even though you're over 80 and use a cane, do you want to walk to the edge of that cliff to look over? Yes. Gran, do you want to dress up in a corset and fishnets and pretend you are a saloon girl for a picture? Yes. Gran, do you want to put your feet in the ice-cold mountain stream? Yes.
Butter, do you want spend nearly five hours driving to glean black walnuts at an old fallen farmstead at midnight on Halloween?
Of course, the perfect ending to this story would be me smiling at the triumph of collecting a bounty of black walnuts. Unfortunately, someone got to them before us. We ended up scrounging old nuts from under a thick layer of duff by the light of headlamps, and only came home with a five gallon bucket of black walnuts. But I still had a fantastic time, and I've got a few black walnuts to enjoy throughout the winter. Part of the joy of foraging is the adventure, the thrill of a treasure hunt. And on Halloween night, I got a heavy dose of that.