One of my neighbors has a huge, beautiful walnut tree that I call “Old Walnut”. It hangs over our yard and provides excellent shade in the summer months, which we really enjoy. I know that walnut wood is valuable and that walnuts taste good, but other than that, I seldom think about walnut trees! Let’s fact it, walnut trees don’t have magnetic personalities. They don’t get around much and don’t introduce you to any interesting people. And, except for a short time in the fall of the year, they don’t carry on much of a conversation!
During the past twenty years I’ve developed a special relationship with Old Walnut. Each year from late August through September he communicates with me in a strange way by dropping hundreds of walnuts on my lawn. Walnuts are green when they fall from the tree, about the size and color of a small green apple. Inside that apple-like exterior is the walnut shell that we are used to buying at the store. Inside that shell is the nut that we enjoy so much. Once the walnuts fall from the tree gray squirrels dig inside the soft apple exterior and carry away the hard walnut shells, complete with nut. The outer coatings kill the grass, making it annually imperative that I must pick up the nuts to preserve the lawn.
When I go over and pick up the nuts, Old Walnut has a chance to “talk” to me. I figure that Old Walnut probably feels neglected and needs to communicate. As I’m picking up the nuts, Old Walnut drops more nuts! It’s kind of humorous. I pick up perhaps 50 nuts and get a small area of the lawn nut-free and before I know it, it that Old Walnut plops a new nut right in the middle of my clean area. They hit the ground with a big thump, which is Old Walnuts’ way of communication. Last time I visited, Old Walnut dropped over 20 nuts while I was cleaning up.
Sometimes I utter mild curse words to Old Walnut when I hear a new nut fall. This doesn’t intimidate the Old Walnut in the least. Every time I curse him, he drops another nut! After a while, my cursing is so impotent and foolish that I just start laughing each time I hear a new nut fall. He brings a smile to my face! It’s Old Walnut’s way of telling me that he is in charge and that I have no chance to alter his behavior. Sometimes it is demoralizing knowing that this big, inanimate object is ruling me, but Old Walnut also gives me a sense of security. No matter who is President, no matter what shenanigans Islamic terrorists are up to, no matter how badly the Green Bay Packers play football, no matter how the bad economy is doing, and no matter unhappy my wife is with me, that Old Walnut tree is a constant presence in an otherwise insecure world. Nothing, but nothing changes Old Walnut. He drops his nuts wherever and whenever he darn well pleases!
Humans are control freaks. We like to determine our fate. When something doesn’t suit us we develop technology and resources to change it. If we can’t shape things to our liking we become unhappy. When we want something we want it immediately. We move at a fast pace. We could all use a bit more patience, a bit more silence, and a bit more internal strength. Maybe we can learn something from Old Walnut.