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. 

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