Revenge on the Chestnut by Bobbie Brittingham

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The word revenge might be a little too strong for this situation, but it really felt good to say it. There are several different kind of chestnuts. The color of a horse for one. I had a beautiful big 17 hand horse named Shannon when I was a young woman many years ago, but I still can see how bright his coat shinned after giving him a bath as he stood in the sun. He had a lovely bright chestnut color. I loved it. Horses also have a small hard scaly growth on their legs called a chestnut. There is the chestnut wood used in fine furniture, and it has beautiful rich grain to it. A woman with chestnut color hair as Maureen O’Hara had, to be envied by many. THEN there is the chestnut tree. A tree that produces sought after edible nuts. More about them later. I want to inform you about the beauty of this tree. It is rather a medium to fast growing deciduous tree that can eventually reach 75 to 100 feet. In the early 20th century, a fungal blight carried by a hitch hiker almost wiped out the American Chestnut. They are breeding them now in hopes that they can create a tree that will be resistant to this deadly blight. Large oval serrated leaves that cover wide sweeping arching branches. The bark has an interesting rough grey-brown bark. The spring brings forth a beautiful white cascading candle-like blossom, and it has a slight sweet fragrance. They were so prominent on the Appalachian Mountain tops that when they were in bloom it was said to look like snow on the tops of the mountains. These blossoms drop and will create drifts that can clog the gutters.

Close up ChestnutThe architectural branches add great interest to the winter landscape too. They are a very lovely tree with many attributes, but they do have a major major (that is a double major) drawback. Word of caution, my language and tone might change as I reveal the very despicable side of this tree. In the fall these stately trees drop a round, hard, thorny, sharply, bristly, prickly, spiky, covered ball. They are treacherous to step on and it will go thru a flip – flop. Yes, I really do know about this from firsthand experience. The tree should never, ever, be planted near any path, door or opening within 100 yards of where inhabitants or cohabitants are living. Mine is !!!!! Located on the drive side of the house, right where anyone who gets out of a car steps on them, and I walk almost daily. This is my real reason for the extreme disdain I have for this particular chestnut tree.

But the chestnut does have a little secret inside these tennis size monstrous balls. There is a sweet delicious buttery nut. This is the first year I took the challenge, or rather an attempt at doing something with them. After all, I had to find a way to wage revenge on the tree. I really didn’t want to cut it down since I love my trees and have planted over 87 trees in three years on a few acres. This seemed like a reasonable excuse to salvage some decent kind of reward from the continuous raking and cleaning up these nasty —- spiny, prickly things that the devil grew. The little nut inside will luckily loosen from the surrounding barricade and to descend with a thud to the ground. The only thing is that between the squirrels and me was an hourly dash to grab Chestnut treewhat we could before the other did. I had collected a nice bag of these exquisite chestnuts and decided this would be my revenge. These are the nuts that romantic, holiday songs have been written, and people pay dearly for from a street vendor. They are of culinary fame from soup to, well, nuts is one word, but I will say just deserts. So I looked up on Goggle how to roast these prized gems. I bought a special roasting pan and a special tool for cutting the ends in a cross pattern. I invested all of only $68.00 at Amazon. This proves they really do have everything.

I invited a friend over to enter into this process with me. I was making sure that if I were poisoned from this experiment, someone could tell my children how brave I was. I followed the directions from Miss Martha (you know THE one) and opened a bottle of white wine to help with digestion. The special frying pan was scattered with about fifteen prepared nuts. I turned the gas on to medium and stood back in admiration of this fulfilling moment. Soon the cross started to peel away from the inside treasure. All was waiting for REVENGE. Some butter was melted, and some salt was ground and then the moment of complete ecstatic REVENGE !!!! YES– YES– YES. Almost as good as When Harry Met Sally.

Now you can make up your own mind about whether you want a Chestnut tree . If I had my choice, I would never plant one close to the house. I would certainly plant one just far enough out of the way so that it does not cause undo pain, but still close enough that I can race the squirrels.

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