Tonight, I’m awed by walnuts and the satisfying crunch they make when tread under the wheels of a rickety old van. They carry me back to my childhood and adolescence. I remember reaching down to gather walnuts from the dry ground of our backyard, ground parched from the onset of Fall, wispy with tendrils of hay-like grass. The walnuts stained my hands – a deep, molasses-like color that seeped into my skin like ink. The dirty brown of the walnut’s juice fascinated me in comparison with its avocado-green exterior. Some walnuts were hard – I threw those into the rickety, orange wheelbarrow and heard the satisfying “clunk” and “ting!” Other walnuts oozed with juice; I carefully pried those from the earth by my fingertips and chucked them after the hard walnuts. My brother and I wheeled that wheelbarrow around the yard to collect our walnuts. We earned 5 or 10 cents (I can’t remember which) for each nut; our parents had instituted the rule after our neighbors were given 50 cents for each walnut they collected. Our yard was bigger and our walnut population more plentiful, so we did alright.
Funny how the simple crunch of a few walnuts can transport you back to old memories…and how the memories seem to pile on top of each other once you glance at one. Remembering the dusty ground of our backyard, my mind’s eye dimly sees my brother (so much younger then – devoid of beard, muscle, and height) intensely eyeing my lightsaber, circling me – his enemy. I whirled my weapon at Connor. He parried my blow, but, at that age, he hadn’t yet become the expert sword-fighter. My larger size and height made me more formidable (he would soon cream me and freak me out with his ability to use that sword). We monologued – placing ourselves within a galaxy far, far away, but soon revealed our confusion. Neither of us knew whether we were the good or bad guy. Both of us had double-double crossed. So, we argued about our identities while we whirled our blue and green lightsabers. I think Connor told me I had to be Chewbacca. I protested, vehemently. I was an alien female, strong and agile. I’m fairly retaliated – quite intelligently – by informing Connor that it was he who was Chewbacca.
My memory fades, though Connor’s young face still stares at me. All this from a few walnuts…life and memories can be beautiful things.