Park Nuts

Walnut Man in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

On a good day we don’t see anyone in the park. Actually, that is not entirely true. On really nice days we always run into other people. Most days, though, we hardly see anyone in the park. I used to find that surprising but not anymore. People have stuff to do.

We were coming back up from the lake on Pine Valley Road when we watched this guy pull over, hop out of his car and walk directly over to a tree near the side of the road. He didn’t even look back at us as we walked by so I asked, “What’s going on with that tree?” He said, “I didn’t know there was a walnut tree here. I’ve been picking walnuts from the tress over there for years but I never new there was one here.” He had a few of them in his hands already. They are about the size of a tennis ball before you get the outer green layer off. And inside that there is the wooden shell and inside that the fruit.

He told us he takes them home and soaks them in a bucket, about a hundred at a time. “If they rise to the surface I throw them out because they are rotten but that only happens to two or three.” He said he cracks them open with a rubber mallet and eats them while he’s watching tv. As he was talked he got a small shovel out of the back of his car and he cracked a few nuts open and gave us taste. They were great, nice and moist. Then he showed us a long handled pruning sheer that he uses to cut them from higher branches. I asked if the park people ever bothered him while he was picking and he said, “No, but I’m not picking nuts today, I metal detecting.”

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