I stopped by the market yesterday to pick up a bag of spring mix and some apples. My little market has the greatest of the great local produce and it’s my favorite place to get first-of-the-season autumn apples. I picked out a couple of winners (Arkansas blacks and pink ladies) and headed to the check stand. On my way there I passed by a display of nuts still in their shells. I circled once, twice, and then swooped up a small bag to bring home for my coffee table.
The simple display made me think of my grandparents’ living room, where my Grams always had a bowl of unshelled mixed nuts on the coffee table with a pair of silver crackers during the fall and winter months. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, filberts (which I later learned are hazelnuts) and Brazil nuts, who have a less than P.C. name for many of a certain generation. We had to google their proper name yesterday when I got home.
I spent many an afternoon as a little girl during the adults’ cocktail hour, trying to crack these nuts open and get to the sweet meats inside. I always had the hardest time, either not being able to get my small hands around the cracker to get enough grip to crack the nut open, or getting enough leverage somehow (usually using both hands) and smashing the nut to bits that went everywhere (because I didn’t have a hand under my work). She never got mad, and neither did Poppa. Someone would always show me the best way to attack the nuts for good cracking, or crack them for me when I was frustrated and didn’t want to try any more.
I got older, my skill got better, and I would try to crack the walnuts and pecans and Brazils open and keep the nut meats intact. It’s harder than it sounds; my dad and my grandpa are both pretty good at being able to mine entire halves from walnuts and pecans. And my Granny was always pretty good at it too, when she was a bit younger.
As I sat on the couch with the cat tonight, with my silver cracker and my bowl of nuts, it was a small joy in my day thinking back on these times gone by, being a little girl and the little things in life. I’m sure if I call my Grams tomorrow she probably has a bowl of unshelled nuts on her coffee table, and I take some comfort in knowing that even though the world around me is changing so much every day, there are still some things that I can depend on. Simple things, like a bowl of nuts and not being able to crack them correctly.