Did she drop a keepsake?
Was she collecting prized leaves to press between wax paper like my dear Grandma used to?
I was getting curious as to her vigil and watchful eyes that were guided downward. Continue walking and wondering if I should ask if I could help her or not (lest my blog has you assuming I'm an outgoing extrovert, let me dispel those ideas very quickly to say that I am anything but that!) I glanced in an unassuming way (introverts master this skill...) and looking into her little container, I concluded that she was gathering nuts of some kind.
The trees all over campus have nut-bearing fruit dropping all over this time of year. There is one tree just outside the music building that releases orange-sized fruit that crack open leaving nut or seed bare to the squirrels or feet that walk by. I've been paranoid that I'll be walking by one day, and one will drop on my head. ;) I recently discovered these huge things are containing walnuts.
Several other trees have much smaller clusters of hardened fruit that drop also, and they drop in abundance. My head has been spared of these, too, and these are what the grandmotherly-lady was gathering.
Sitting out on the stone steps near the music building this afternoon, I chatted with my sister who was at the airport about to leave for Africa. While in conversation, I saw an elderly couple with that familiar downward gaze to the earth, searching for these little treasures. They must have scouted other places since their bag was getting full of these little round things.
At my feet I saw one of these little oval shaped shells crushed and halved. The fruit inside was still intact. My curiosity had been satisfied. They were pecans! I don't know why I never figured it out before. Memories of when I was a little girl came to mind. Mother-dear would keep a basket on the light blue "mountain-weave" tablecloth (like these) that draped our antique maple dining room table during the holidays. That basket was full of various nuts with two silver nutcrackers. Happy times...
There was one unbroken lying on the ground. I picked it up and am saving it. (Does anyone know if I can plant it in the spring?)
Someday I hope to have time to gather nuts, and loved ones around the table to share the fruit of them by hearing that old-familiar sound of the shell releasing its treasure inside...
Do YOU gather nuts? How does the "drying" process work? or are they ready to eat now?