Monday, September 27
The more you beat them the better they be
We spent a very happy hour or so yesterday morning throwing sticks at a tree. The people of Abbey Wood do not wait for their walnuts to fall, and whilst this would not have been my first choice of harvest method it is clearly traditional in these parts. As far as I can see from the healthy trees the method does little damage apart from a light leaf-prune, so my conscience is reasonably clear. The harvest method mainly goes throw--miss--collect stick, or occasionally throw--hit branch--wait--collect stick. I discovered a great talent for lodging sticks in trees, and also had a little local difficulty with a dog who took a fancy to my stick (and well he might, it was very fine). Fortunately once he'd been distracted with a green ball (so fickle) I was able to get back to my throw-miss-collect stick routine. About once every twenty-thirty throws an actual nut fell from the tree. It was enormous fun.
About half of the nuts in the bowl were actually gathered a few weeks ago as green windfalls, but the green outer shell (a bit like a conker shell but without spikes) has rotted slowly away and yesterday we stamped on them to get at the nutshells. The walnuts are 'green' in that they have not been kiln dried, and have a more delicate flavour than their shop-bought counterpart. I could probably have bought three times as many at a supermarket for about £1.50, but these were hard won and as a result taste four times as good.