Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Black Walnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire?

During my trip to Maryland in October, I spent a morning picking up many black walnuts that had littered the ground in parts of our yard. I did it because our prolific trees provide us with a vast expanse of walnut seedlings each spring. We mow them down, or I pull them out by their roots, but they return each year. In an effort to be proactive, I gathered all the nuts before they could turn into weeds. I was faced with a beautiful day, an energetic body, and a lack of patience.

Christmas means kiflings (a family cookie tradition), and kiflings mean walnuts. I am reminded that there is more to a walnut than the mere possibility that it will germinate and become a weed. There is the concept that we could actually eat it. (Well, Peter can’t because of his nut allergy, but the rest of us can.) I have looked online and found a little bit about how to harvest and crack them, a little about how to cook with them, and a little about how the emerging market for black walnuts in China could mean we are living on a potential walnut mine! As a bonus, I discovered that eating them actually promotes weight loss because they are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

My goal for next year is to discover a little bit more by September so I can actually make a decent attempt at harvesting, cracking, storing, cooking, and eating our own black walnuts. (Since 65% of the wild harvest comes from Missouri, I’m counting on my Missouri friends and family to help me out here.) It seems a waste to let a bounty of food go to the squirrels every year. If you’re not up for grape stomping, but you still want to help us discover new ways of living next fall, drop by for the black walnut harvest. If you’re up for both, we may still be able to accommodate you. Each fall in several states, cities host a Black Walnut Festival. Are there any adventurous explorers out there who would like to accompany me to Ohio, West Virginia, or Missouri?

Next year at this time, stop by our house and join us for some roasted walnuts...or whatever we come up with. I can’t guarantee that you’ll find Jack Frost, yuletide choirs, or folks dressed up like Eskimos, but I can guarantee wine, warmth, food, and friendship.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Piano Moving Day

Today we sold our piano to a terrific young family (the Songs!) that is excited about learning and exploring a new passion. Our baby grand piano was purchased nine years ago when we were in the same stage of life. Our oldest was taking piano lessons, and we had hopes that our other two children would also learn. As it turns out, the oldest was a fine pianist, but her passion was in choir. Our middle child found her passion in the theater, and our youngest is still in search of his passion. Regardless, the piano was not it, and it is time to sell it and move on.

Our oldest is unhappy about us selling the piano. She has fond memories of playing it and using it to help her sing. She has many friends who are proficient at it and would play it when they visited our house. (Thank you, Tania, for your many beautiful serenades!) But now our oldest lives on the East Coast in a dorm that has its own grand piano. I suspect she has never played it. I also suspect she wouldn’t play ours if we moved it.

We only briefly considered moving the piano with us to Maryland. For one thing, Peter and I don’t play it. And although we might occasionally have visitors who do, we weren’t convinced that it was worth the space that it would take up. Also, a piano prefers a climate controlled environment. Our house in Maryland is anything but climate controlled. Temperature and humidity swing like a pendulum, wreaking havoc on a wooden instrument’s tuning and tone. No, we just couldn’t do that with a good conscience.

We have the memories that life with a piano afforded us. Now it’s time for this reliable and beautiful instrument to meet a new family and provide them with many years of memories and beauty. It wasn’t built to stand as a piece of furniture or as a monument to times past. It was built to be played and enjoyed in the moment by appreciative hands and ears and smiling faces. Merry Christmas to the Song children. May you have many happy memories ahead of you.