Pecans conjure up memories. All pleasurable and none to do with taste.
Every year, around Thanksgiving, my grandmother would keep a bowl full of them out on her coffee table. Unshelled. You’d always find the nutcracker sitting on top of the pile or sometimes sorta buried in there with the pecans. I use that nutcracker today and even though the spring’s a little shot, it still does the job.
At home in front of our fireplace, Daddy taught us kids how to crack open pecans and toss the shells into the fire. It made a flame I found mesmerizing in color and smelled as sweet as fresh cut hay.
I realized that pickin’ pecans, aside from the satisfaction of being outdoors and performing manual labor, offered other gifts too.
At the farm, pickin’ pecans was a family activity. For my brothers and sister and me it was also how we got our Christmas money. One year I picked sixty bucks worth in one afternoon. I was the richest 16-year old on earth.
For hours, we’d crawl across the ground underneath the pecan trees dragging our buckets behind. From an aerial view, we probably looked no different than a small herd of cattle grazing. To this day, the clean sound of those first pecans dropping into an empty bucket scratches something deep.
Today, thankfully, pickin’ pecans is still a family activity and one that has taken on a deeper meaning.
Last year, the day before Thanksgiving, my brother and I went pecan pickin’ every chance we could. On his farm, the pickin’ is easy. Pecan trees are everywhere. Onward we crawled, filling our buckets and in a way, I thought, our souls.
I realized that pickin’ pecans, aside from the satisfaction of being outdoors and performing manual labor, offered other gifts too. A chance to feel grounded. Literally. Spiritually. In a world driven by technology, a rare pleasure.
For my brother and me, it gave us an opportunity to share conversation. Not the babbling kind. Relaxed, real and free flowing, interspersed with long periods of silence. Easy. In a way, sorta like how we were crawling around following the pathways of those pecans.
At the end of that day, a sunset appeared. So brilliant in color that the sky looked on fire. Strangely, similar to those flames I studied in our fireplace.