Nuts.....

.... I spent a bit of the time during last night's Sochi Olympic opening hulling a few walnuts for this morning's banana bread....... initially I just put two walnuts in the palm of my hand and pressed them together until one of the shells inevitably cracked - something that I had seen my Father do a thousand times before....... but after a while, I wandered into the kitchen and broke out the pliers-like nutcrackers.......

.... there is something wonderful about cracking nuts, and I just can't put my finger on it...... it is visceral, I suppose..... harkening back to the days when we as a species were foragers..... alert, desperate, and always hungry....... it is deeply satisfying to feel those shells crack as the pressure is applied...... knowing that a delectable goodie is soon to be found...... wholesome, healthy, earthy, and natural.....

......and I was reminded - quite suddenly - of Sunday afternoon dinners at my Grandmother's house when I was a child... she used to make this wonderful cornbread with lard, black pepper, salt, milk, cornmeal, and wild black walnuts........ it was a real treat, and one that she only made on special occasions..... the wild black walnut is not like the walnuts that we purchase today...... it is encased in an impenetrable cocoon of iron-like husk....... as hard and fast as the gates of purgatory...... usually, it required a claw hammer and an anvil just to break through to the goodie.... and then, of course, the flesh of the nut was woven like a cancer through the dense inner husk..... it required hours of work for just a handful of emancipated flesh of the sweet and earthy walnut flesh....

..... I remembered my Grandfather sitting on the front porch patiently opening the nuts and picking out the sweet flesh with the flattened end of a 10-penny nail...... silently chewing tobacco and focusing on the task at hand, he would work for hours for only a small handful of black walnuts...... and then, dutifully as always, he would deliver them inside for Grandma to bake into the cornbread for lunch.....

.... Now?...... who takes the time to work that hard for a simple, natural treat?....... ahhhh, well...... still, for what it is worth, my banana bread is smelling pretty damned good as it bakes away in the kitchen....... life, I suppose...... we change over time, but it is good to think of the Old Ways from time to time.....

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