A View From The Attic
29 December 2008
by Jerry Birkby
At this time of year, when traditions are so important as we
celebrate the holidays, what is more traditional in the Midwest than
Black Walnuts? Christmas Trees, maybe? Surely Christmas trees and
walnut nutmeats at Christmas time would go together like egg and nog.
So when Terry and Lona Lewis suggested my wife and I bring some
cracked black walnuts up to their Horse Creek Christmas Tree Farm
and offer them for sale, we jumped at the chance.
Jo Ann and I are sole proprietors in a small cottage industry
involving black walnuts. At least that is our term for ourselves; it
has a much better ring than “galley slaves.”
Through some fortuitous state of affairs, there are over thirty
black walnut trees in and around the area we mow and every year
their largess showers unbidden on our yard, our flower beds, our
asparagus bed, our fish pond, our---, but you get the idea. And this
is all free. They falleth on the just and on the unjust even unto
many generations. Since we live on a Century Farm west of Sidney,
this is a case of the sins of the fathers being visited upon the
sons. Even so, what could be simpler than to pick up these riches,
process them and offer the succulent nutmeats to a clamoring public
for a price?
“Crack up a few bushels of walnuts,” Lona said. “Package them up and
bring them up here and we will offer them for sale. You’ll make a
fortune. Oh, and write a little sales pitch to go on the packages.”
So I cracked the walnuts and sat down and typed out the most calmly
reasoned diatribe I have ever laid before an unsuspecting public
even though it is painful to write with mashed fingers:
RECAPTURE THE CUSTOMS OF YESTERYEAR!
INVOKE THE MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD!
REKINDLE YOUR HOLIDAY SPIRIT!
Yes, you can! Armed only with a nut pick and a steely determination,
in one evening you can garner enough delicious nutmeats from one of
our pre-cracked and presorted packages of wild Black Walnuts to add
an indescribable flavor to many of your own time-honored recipes.
Remember your mother’s cookie recipe, the cake your grandmother used
to make, the torte that was your aunt’s specialty? Now the accolades
that were showered on them can be yours. Imagine your young ones
clustered around a festive table early on a snowy holiday morning,
their faces all aglow, a look of stunned wonderment stealing into
their eyes at the very first taste of one of your culinary
masterpieces enhanced by the subtle flavor of Black Walnut.
Start out their day with a bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with Black
Walnut nutmeats; later serve up a bit of ice cream covered with
crushed black walnuts. Such is the stuff of which legends are made
and all this can be yours for the low, low price marked on the
individual packages arranged before you.
To date we have not sold one walnut (which makes me think people are
smarter than I would have believed possible,) but it hasn’t been a
total loss--I got to write this article for the Historical Society.
Since I have been a member since the Society’s inception and have
never really done anything for them, it was time.