Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Chestnut Tree

In front of the house at the edge of the yard, spreading it's branches to form a canopy over our mailbox and part of the road was a majestic old chestnut tree.

I loved that old tree. It used to be the first tree to get leaves in the spring and while other trees were getting leaves, it was producing flowers already. To me they looked like hundreds of miniature Christmas trees covered with white flowers with pink and purple centers. I wasn't the only one that enjoyed those flowers. Bees would come swarming by without fail every year to feast on the sweet nectar. I didn't particularly care for the bees, their buzzing hum could be heard as soon as we stepped outside the house.

Once the flowers were done blooming they were followed by large sticky buds, if the buds stayed attached to the tree they would eventually turn to chestnuts, but if for some reason they fell off they often wound up stuck to our bare feet. It was hard to get them unstuck, so we tried to be careful where we stepped as we walked through the front yard.

As the summer passed the tree produced a lovely shade and provided a great place to relax on the big swing under it. Or jump on the little swing that was fastened to one of it's sturdy branches and go flying through the air, trying to get our toes to touch the leaves was a challenge we enjoyed.

In the fall the large prickly thorn covered balls of chestnuts would start dropping. We children spent hours gathering them and carefully opening the prickly shell and removing several glossy brown chestnuts. They weren't edible, but they were so pretty that we saved all we could. We used to share some of them with an elderly couple that lived in the village. She used them to make wreaths and her husband liked to carry several around in his pockets saying that they relieved his arthritis pain, so we always made sure they got how ever much they wanted. We children got to keep the rest. They were so much fun to play with. I was always sad once they lost their glossiness and we had to throw them away. But I knew that before long that grand old tree would give us another batch.

18 comments:

The French Bear said...

What a wonderful story, I have never seen a chestnut tree, they sound very interesting.
Hugs,
Margaret B

The Mennobrarian said...

This story is very similar to a childhood memory of my own! There were some nut bearing trees on an span of property that bordered us, and a Chinese lady who did not speak English used to come through with a pillow case picking up the nuts. We children used to help her when we saw her coming through, and sometimes she would give us candy. No words were ever needed! We never found out what she did with the nuts.

I love reading your childhood memories.

Janie said...

I've never seen a chestnut tree, but the big old cottonwood in our yard is a child's delight, complete with a rope for swinging.
No child should grow up without trees to play on and under.
Wonderful story!

The imPerfect Housewife said...

I guess I never really thought about not being able to eat chestnuts - what about chestnuts roasting on an open fire? What's that about? It sounds like a beautiful tree - almost year round!! Great story ~ ♥

Queenie Jeannie said...

Lovely story!! I can't believe you didn't eat them - I love chestnuts!

tattytiara said...

I've never seen a chestnut tree in person, but they do always capture my imagination when I hear beautiful descriptions of them like this one.

A Joyful Chaos said...

Re Queenie Jeannie:

We tried almost every way imaginable to find a way to eat them, but they were totally non-edible. Even squirrels wouldn't touch them.

According to research they were horse chestnuts.

Amy said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog.

Diana said...

Great story!!

Nel said...

I am so glad you stopped by my blog. I can't wait to read your other posts. Planning on adding you to my list on my blog, hope you don't mind.

until next time... nel

Bevy said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog this morning and commenting. I love comments. When I noticed you were from Amish background - I decided I wanted to follow your blog, too. Hope that's okay. I can't wait to read back on some of your *old* posts. I came from Conservative Mennonite Background... so there is certainly some keen interest here.

I had to think about this though, after reading the comment you left on my blog this morning... really, it's more of a question... but, IF you grew up Amish - then you of all people can appreciate or at best identify...with what I shared. Right?

Now, I am reminded of spending a whole day, several years ago, sitting around a quilt (my quilt, later to be given to me by my Grammy)with Amish friends of my Grandmother's (she was Mennonite) and quilting the day away... oh my...What a wonderful experience!

I think I have another blog post coming up in my corner of blogland... Come back and visit again, anytime.
~Bevy

theUngourmet said...

Once I hand wrote a story about an oak tree. I had dozens of hand written pages. Somehow I misplaced the pages during a move. It still frustrates me to this day!

Your tree sounds lovely! When I close my eyes, I can hear the bees buzzing. :)

The Old Geezer said...

I enjoyed looking over your blog
God bless you

jitka said...

There are tons of horse chestnuts trees around here (in Czech republic). We also collected them and we were making little matchstick legs animals with them. I have seen wild pigs eating them, never tried feed them to horses.

I find your blog very fascinating. Can you please write a post about what Amish do in the winter, for example how do you remember a butchering? What do Amish wear in the winter, when temperature is near zero?

Robynn's Ravings said...

Chestnuts are so endangered. How great that you got to enjoy one of the old monarchs! Have missed your story telling. :)

Miti said...

See, your blog is like a book I can't put down. Love the stories!

kanishk said...

I have never seen a chestnut tree, they sound very interesting.

Work from home India

Kathleen said...

Mary Ann...I completely understand about the bitter horse chestnuts being inedible. There are other chestnuts that are, but not the horse chestnuts. I tried to eat one when I was a little girl. I also used to like to collect them from the tree that grew on the edge of my grandmother's property. In the Fall, when the leaves would be raked and burned, we would get to collect and throw the chestnuts into the fire where they would POP and sizzle! Thank you for sparking one of my memories!