Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Mystery of the Hickory Nuts...

I have a mystery to solve.

It involves hickory nuts.

As you know, I recently bought my own house. I'm still getting used to being a homeowner but I'm slowly getting the hang of it...I think.

My yard was tree-less when I moved in. Last September, a couple of weeks before I moved, Ohio was hit with some massive wind-storms. There was a lot of damage to trees all over the part of the state in which I live. My current backyard did have two trees in it but they had to be chopped down because of the damage to them as did my neighbour's trees. Thus, my garden had absolutely no trees in it until Saturday on which day, I changed that by planting a little Japanese cherry tree.

I did have two trees on the strip of grass in front of my house. It's between the sidewalk pavement and the road and everyone in our neighbourhood is responsible for mowing this strip of grass. In my grass strip were two rather nice maple trees. They may not really be maple since I'm prone to only recognizing trees when they either have fruit on them or they still have the tag from the nursery where they were purchased on them. Yet, for the purpose of this blog, they're maple trees.

One day, a couple of weeks ago, I came home from work. I was talking to my mother on the phone and I looked out the front window. Something looked different. I slowly realized one of my trees was gone. It wasn't an old tree; it had only been planted a couple of weeks ago. Yet...there it was...gone...with only a stump remaining.

Naturally, I was baffled. I know that tree had been there when I'd left for work. Yet there were no traces of sawdust, no twigs, no fallen branches. It was just...gone.

I went to check out the stump. There were no clues.

I began to suspect that perhaps there was a Tree Serial Killer around, a crazed lumberjack who chopped down trees like a phantom so that all that remained was a stump.

I tested my theory on a coworker who has little time for my imagination. Thus, she suggested that I contact the City where I live and find out.

I decided that might not be a bad idea. So I emailed them, giving them my Crazed Lumberjack theory as a possible explanation. I got a polite reply that did not mention a lumberjack at all. Instead, the City Tree Person said that my tree had been damaged in the wind-storm last year and had been tagged for chopping for a while. Unfortunately, the nice lady who lived in my house before me forgot to mention that. Thus, while it may look like my tree was randomly taken, it was, in fact, scheduled to be removed.

While I was happy to find out the answer, I was a little sad that the mystery had such a simple solution.

However, I'm both pleased and a little scared to report I might have another mystery on my hands, as I mentioned in my blog opening: The Mystery of the Appearing Hickory Nuts.

For those non-nut-knowing folk, a hickory nut begins in this rather large green husk, the size of a tennis ball. When they're ripe, the husks split as the nuts fall from the tree, releasing the nuts. When they're unripe, they remain in their green tennis-ball-form, unable to be opened without force and great mess.

Last week, I was outside watering my plants when I noticed a hickory nut that was sitting in the very corner of my house on a little ledge that runs around the side of my house. It's only about two inches wide, large enough upon which to sit a hickory nut but not large enough that a squirrel could scurry around upon it. I knew that hickory nut hadn't been there before because I often go for a walk outside and look around that area to make sure there aren't any scary spiders. That night, there weren't any spiders...just a green-yellow unripe hickory nut.

Scenerios ran in my mind as to how that nut got there but I finally dismissed it, throwing the nut back into my weed patch and deciding not to worry about it unless another nut appeared.

This weekend, when I weeded, I found that nut in my geraniums and I tossed it towards the end of my yard. I tried to locate the hickory tree from which it must have fallen but I'm still not sure which tree that might be. See comment above regarding my recognition of trees.

I didn't give that hickory nut much thought again. I'd talked myself into thinking that perhaps that nut really had sat in the corner of my ledge the entire time I'd been living in my house and I hadn't noticed it.

Until last night.

I was in my kitchen, making tortilla soup and relaxing. I like making soup because it involves lots of chopping and I love to chop. I happen to glance out my window.

There, on the grill I had just moved to my deck, sat a green hickory nut.

Now, while I'd like to think there's a very muscular, very agile squirrel out there who can somehow climb onto the grill even though it's not anchored anywhere, I admit...I'm a little dubious about that theory.

My problem is that I watch too much television, too many movies and read too many books. My imagination has gone a little wild.

Firstly, I thought of some weird witchcraft. That's what I get for watching The Blair Witch Project fairly recently. In that movie, the Blair Witch Evil Thing leaves twigs outside the victim's tents. Then they die.

I'm hoping that hickory nut isn't like those twigs. That would be bad.

I looked up the meaning of a hickory nut. Apparently, it doesn't have much meaning. After much digging, I did discover that the Druids and wiccan folk believe that the hickory nut is linked to abundance, wholeness, power, presence, command, discipline, acquisition, giving of gifts, and the finding of direction.

Well, it'd be nice to find some direction, I admit. I'm just not sure how, exactly, a mystery hickory nut is going to help me find that.

Then again, it also represents a giving of gifts. Maybe someone is leaving me hickory nuts as a gift.

I even entertained the idea that the bunny that I see on my lawn every day is leaving the nuts. Naturally, the logical thought that bunnies can't climb followed shortly after. I did think for a brief moment how nice it would be if the bunny was really some prince or hero in disguise and the hickory nuts were a clue for how I could release him. That only lasted 30 seconds. I might have a vivid imagination but I'm also a realist. I'm not sure how heroic a prince might be after spending at least a couple of months hiding under my tool shed and enjoying a night snack on my lawn.

Still, despite all the ideas I came up with, I really don't have a good one for the hickory nuts that are appearing. As it got darker, I started to have a little less bravado and a little scarier thoughts. People are weird. The only way those nuts could really have got there was if a human put them there. What if that Crazed Lumberjack was not as fictional as I thought? What if someone was coming into my yard while I slept? This thought is particularly scary when you're lying in the dark, the house creaking a little because it's old with the windows open to let in the cool air. I have a one-level house. My bedroom window is right beside that grill where I found the second hickory nut.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep well. I had horrid dreams. I made sure my blinds were closed but I still felt paranoid, in case someone really was out there.

This morning, naturally, I feel a little silly for having such an overactive imagination. When I looked out of the window at the dark dawn outside, all I saw in the twilight was that bunny, having his breakfast by eating the grass at the base of my new tree. There was no lumberjack, no creature lurking in the shadows that I could see.

The hickory nut was still there.

That, at least, I hadn't imagined.

I'm sure there's a logical explanation for it. I just can't come up with one. I'll let you know if another one appears. Or if the Crazed Lumberjack shows up. Or it's a new Blair Witch. Or if the bunny turns out to be more than a bunny.

In the meantime, I think I should probably control my imagination a little better. It might make sleep easier.

But if you can come up with a theory for me on how these nuts are getting where they're getting, I'd appreciate it.

Happy Wednesday.

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