Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hick’r Nut Harvesting on a Chilly Autumn Morning

Early this Saturday morning I ventured into the woods on a mission to find some hick’r nuts. Known as a hickory tree, most folks around here call them hick’r nut trees. It was a cool autumn morning with the temperature in the 40’s, so it was the first time this season I’ve donned a flannel shirt. It wasn’t long before I came upon an old hickory tree and the ground was covered with fallen nuts in their thick woody husks. I easily gathered a small-sized paper sack full of bounty.

In the olden days the hickory nut was a tasty treat, often a substitute for walnuts (to me the shagbark hickory nut tastes similar to the walnut). I’ve often heard my grandparents say a three-layer hick’r nut cake was a special treat. During those days hickory was also a prized wood used for tool handles, wheel spokes and the like. And hickory was also a preferred type of wood for smoke curing meats. However some species of the tree produce a nut that is bitter.

I’ve now displayed my small bounty of de-husked hick’r nuts in a bowl on the fireplace hearth, right next to a big orange pumpkin I received from a local farmer last week. There’s something about nuts and pumpkins that simply bring an aura of the autumn season into the home.

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