My boots kick up small clouds of dust as I walk across the dry paddock, it's been so long since we've had rain. It surprises me how the stock have survived this long summer, eating nothing much more than just the dry grass. Poor bastards, covered in thick wool all summer, it can't be pleasant.
The autumnal colours make the fields look as fake as a hollywood picture, but they're real. The early evening hits the golden hour, the tones and colours are accentuated to extreme as the sun releases its final rays for the day.
I approached the old homestead with caution, the long dry grass is often visited by copperheads on warm days such as today, and as much as I respect snakes I'm not keen on being bitten on the ankle. I've spotted quite a few this summer, enough to be vigilant when traipsing through their territory.
The sun was still high by the time I reached the dilapidated house, and it was warm enough that I'd worked up a sweat. I was on a reconnaissance mission of sorts. At the rear of the old place is one of the largest walnut trees I've ever seen, not to mention the large chestnut too. The walnut is pushing 100 years of age, its base is as wide as a car and its branches spread outward like elongated fingers, shading the ground below it with dense foliage. It's a truly beautiful site. The kind of feature that would make me buy the land just for the sake of the tree.
Finding a well established walnut tree or chestnut is a real coup for me. Both types of nuts I love to eat as a snack, but more importantly they often end up in lot of my cooking. I love using walnut in pesto and in salads and chestnut in stuffing for hunted game. And walnuts are especially a favourite as they store well for a year if dried properly.
It's probably a bit early to foraging for walnuts (and far too early for chestnuts). Traditionally I forage for them closer to easter, but like all food that I forage, I tend to keep an eye on its progress during the season as nature is unpredictable, she's a beast that doesn't run by a strict calendar. And it's been a dry summer, so I figured the nuts might drop early this year, and my hunch turned out to be right. Standing below the tree I spotted walnuts everywhere. The soft flesh had even rotted off a few exposing the hard shell of the nut.
I cracked a few open, all disappointingly shrivelled or rotten. There is plenty of nuts still on the tree, maybe over the next few weeks might get my hands on some better nuts. I guess I'm a little too eager. Just like I'll check on the wild apples and chestnuts.
Hopefully they too will provide some tucker for the home kitchen and larder. If not I'll rely on something else. Thats the flexibility I need to have. Nothing seems to be a certainty. Like the birds of prey that glide on the warm winds, I too need to fly on the wind that is provided. Not to work against, it but to embrace it. For now I'll accept the gift of a bunch of apples and be on my way, forever keeping an eye out for the next new tree that will provide another bounty.