When autumn arrives, most people think of pumpkins and colorful leaves. Now, I like pumpkins and leaves as much as anyone but around here are other signs of the season. I’m thinking of nuts!
When I first moved to California’s Central Valley I was amazed to drive past mile after mile of walnut trees. Our home was surrounded by acres of mature walnut trees. The leafy canopy provided a cool place to walk and picnic on scorching summer days. My children played for hours in their “100 acre woods.”
Then, fall arrived with loud noises outside my window like nothing I’d ever heard before. I looked and saw billows of dirt rise into the air. My neighbor called and instructed me to shut the windows. I did but not before every surface was covered with dirt. The walnut harvest had begun.
These odd vehicles had arrived looking like alien space ships. They have an attachment that grabs the tree trunk and shakes the tree. Thousands of walnuts rain down. The driver is safe inside.
This is very hard for me to describe so here’s a youtube video on walnut harvesting for you to check out:
I stopped by a friend’s home last week and her kitchen table was piled high with walnuts. Around the table were a group of seniors happily sorting nuts.
Outside, two gentlemen used a hand operated walnut cracker to break the shells. Some serious work was going on.
This group has been gathering every fall for years. They have a chance to catch up on what’s been going on and leave with a year’s supply of walnuts. I admire their tradition – I don’t think people get together often any more to process nuts. I enjoyed watching but I must admit, I didn’t volunteer to help.
Many of the fields around here have been converted from row crops to almond and pistachios orchards. So, in honor of all the nuts and the harvest season, here are some “nutty” books to share. Add them to your collection of pumpkin and fall books.
Nuts to You! by Lois Ehlert (author and illustrator)
Young children who love squirrels will enjoy this book about a curious squirrel who leaves his nest in a tree makes its way into an apartment. The joyous plot is written from a child’s viewpoint. The collage illustrations are stunning two page spreads. This is a terrific book to read aloud – children just naturally join in while listening to the rhyming text.
Acorns Everywhere! by Kevin Sherry (author and illustrator)
“Bonk!” begins this book with an illustration of a squirrel being bonked on the head by a falling acorn. The squirrel desperately tries to hide the acorns and is nervous when a bear appears. The clever and humorous text is only 32 words but combined with the illustrations this is a fun book for young readers.
And speaking of falling acorns, who doesn’t love the story of Chicken Little?
Chicken Little retold and illustrated by Steven Kellogg is my favorite version of this classic tale. When a falling acorn hits Chicken Little, she is sure the sky is falling. Foxy Loxy sees the chaos and dresses as a policeman bound and determined to load all the hysterical birds into his poultry truck. He drools over the recipes he is planning to make until all his plans come undone. The pictures and text combined are fun and every time I read this one aloud the children say, “read it again!”
What are your favorite signs of fall?