We’d just moved to Missouri. I was unemployed and looking to expand my domestic skill set, and (more importantly) walnuts were free.
I did just enough internet research to be dangerous and then I started picking up the green-hulled specimens in our yard. It grew from there. On my walks around the neighborhood I would keep an eye out for walnut trees, which it turns out are everywhere.
I tried to be subtle, but to Jamie’s embarrassment, I walked a few steps into many a yard to glean.
In retrospect, perhaps it had gone too far when we pulled over by the side of the road on an apple-picking trip to north central Missouri. In my defense, without my single-minded pursuit of free nuts, this never would have happened:
We parked on a gravel road turn-off, crossed the highway, waded through the ditch to the walnut jackpot, and began to fill our bucket. As time passed, we became more bold and ventured from the ditch into the plowed under field. Not long after, an elderly man from the house next door headed our way.
I thought: Crap. We’re trespassing. We’re in trouble.
Turns out not. He’d noticed our peculiar quest and invited us to head over to his place next. He had two trees and a ground full of nuts.
We crossed back over the ditch, got the car, parked in his driveway. Not always being good at small-talk, I sometimes feel a bit awkward in these kinds of social encounters with strangers. Fortunately he spared us the trouble and headed inside. We started to gather and a few moments later heard music. Our hospitable stranger had brought out his cigarettes, a lawn chair, and a guitar.
I almost laughed out loud. My first thought: is this really happening? Why yes, yes it is.