A familiar fall task in Southwestern Wisconsin is picking up walnuts. The lime green husks are easy to spot; not so easy are the ones fallen a few days earlier with the husks now a dark brownish-black. Although gloves might be used to pick them up, fingers are always stained a luscious brown for more than a few hand-washings.
One tree stands behind the garage on my farm–it wasn’t there when I grew up there–but squirrels conveniently planted it and it has survived. It now provides shade and an abundance of walnuts.
I could leave them for the squirrels and one year my husband picked them all up and put them in the bath-tub that lives in the garage. The squirrels thought this quite convenient as when he returned in the spring thinking he could spend evenings shelling walnuts, the bath-tub was empty.
My father used to lay them all out on a tarp to dry; then would husk them, let them dry again and then shell them in the evenings. He cracked several pie platefuls on an anvil in the basement; sometimes used a vise, turning the handle being a bit easy than whacking them with a hammer.
Before dogs arrived I would spend twenty minutes or so on my front porch cracking and shelling walnuts—until the mosquitoes descended upon me. Whacking away at an inanimate object was a great stress reliever.
Picking up all those walnuts–I stopped at two dog food bags full was a pleasurable reminder of past days and memories.
Thinking back upon my experiments with indigo dye–the first color appearing is a wonderful lime green—the same as the walnut husk.