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.