Chasing Inspiration

Monday, September 28, 2015

The War of the Walnuts


  1. Summer is fading into autumn and the weather is starting to become bearable again. 
  2. The black walnut trees in the yard have shed all their nuts. These are messy and attract squirrels, who make them even messier.
  3. I'm not working which means I have the time to assist a dear friend who is recovering from surgery. I wouldn't have been able to be there for her if I was still working. 
We have two enormous black walnut trees in our smallish yard. They are fantastic for creating shade along the southwestern corner of the house and the deck, which makes being outside fabulous for someone like me who is sun sensitive. 

The downside is that black walnut trees, while pretty and excellent shade trees, are messy. They drop leaves and twigs all the time. And the walnuts. Did you know that a walnut is the seed of an ugly green fruit? I have the proof!


See that bucket? That is a gallon sized bucket filled to the two thirds mark with walnuts. From the beginning of August until mid-September we pick up at least this much every other day. Often we fill the bucket. What we don't pick up and throw away the squirrels eat. They peel off the green skin and the white fruit (fruit that turns black as soon as it makes contact with the air). They don't sweep up their leavings and neatly toss them in the trash. No, they leave these bits of walnut fruit and shells every where. In the grass. On the driveway. On the deck. In the rain gutters. In the pots I use for plants. Every. Freaking. Where! 


I used to just itch with the need to pick up every last bit of walnut. Do you know how difficult that is? Impossible. But I would try. I would rake on the days the husband didn't mow. I would even attempt to be proactive and pick the nuts right off the trees. It didn't matter how hard I tried, the nuts would continue to fall and the squirrels would continue to make a mess of things. Eventually, I stopped. I continue to pick up the nuts that have fallen, but I no longer attempt to pick up every single bit of walnut from the deck and yard. 

At first, this felt like giving up. I don't like to give up. I am a pit bull when it comes to something I am passionate about, or something I've started. I have to see it through. I have to give it my all. Anything less is admitting defeat. This attitude is what helped me be a functioning adult for over twenty years while battling fibromyalgia. It's also a contributing factor in why I am now unable to work because of the fibromyalgia. That tenacity, it's a double edged sword. 

Letting go of my desire to have a neat and tidy yard during walnut season wasn't giving up. It was adapting my expectations so I could pour my energies into something more worthwhile. So the yard was going to be Disneyland for squirrels for two months out of the year. It keeps the dog entertained. It's nature doing what nature does. And the walnuts aren't going completely to waste. 

The walnuts now represent the ability to adjust expectations. And to mindfully consider just where on the scale of importance something stands. Sometimes I get so worked up about something that is minor. Do I really need to expend all that time and energy on something that isn't truly worth my time? And won't really matter down the road? 

Walnut season is over. We can reclaim the deck and the yard. We can go outside without fear of nuts falling on our heads. Sure, it was inconvenient for a time and required we gather nuts we neither desire or use. But those two trees are still a gift and because we are a little less diligent in picking up the nuts, the wildlife benefits. Velcro Dog benefits. Sometimes looking at a problem as though it is a benefit is a good thing. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A Younger Me


  1. I've said it before, but it is worth repeating. Air conditioning is a gift from the gods. I'm so thankful we updated and resized our AC unit when we first started renovating the house. I can actually function during heat waves. 
  2. Libraries. Why? I do love owning books, and would live in a bookstore if I could figure out how to manage that. Since books are currently a non-essential purchase, I have been making great use of our library's paper and ebook offerings. 
  3. Rob Thomas! If you haven't listened to his latest album, I insist you find it and do so immediately. 
I have a journal that I write in almost daily. Things I'm grateful for. My fibromyalgia log. Observances. Hopes. Dreams. These days they are filled with the mundane as I try to get a handle on my health issues. These are a far cry from the journals I kept in high school and college. These were works of art filled to overrunning with longing poetry and existential angst. I have journaled in one way or another for most of my life. 

I was cleaning the guest room this weekend and found a box of old journals from college. That was over 20 years ago. As I handled the fabric covers, I wondered if I would recognize my younger self in those pages. College was both amazing and devastating. And the mix started the foundation on which I have built my life. 

I looked at those journals for several minutes before setting them aside to continue cleaning. I'm easily sidetracked by shiny objects, and the fact that I was able to set these bits of shiny aside had me patting myself on the back. I was also unsure if I wanted to open those doors of memory. Like I said, college was both amazing and devastating. It has been a long time since I was that girl, and even thinking of reading those journals felt a bit like prying into something private. 

In the end I ended up packing the journals away. They are a part of my history. Part of who I was and a part of who I am. I remember college with an adult's eye, can see the heartache and think "phew, those were close getaways." I have the luxury of looking back with 20 years of knowledge and life lived between myself and the girl who poured her heart on on those pages. She deserves my respect and my compassion. I'm not sure I would be able to give that to her right now, knowing what I know now. So the journals have been gently packed away. It was a little bit like grieving and letting go, while celebrating who I am now. 

The guest room is clean. My heart is light.