The dry leaves were full of dust and dirt. It made you sneeze, got in your eyes but rolling around in them and burrowing in them was fun.
Today I don't play in raked leaves only deal with them. Dry leaves make good compost and mulch but work best after being “reduced.” I have a blower with a metal turbine that chops them up and reduces a large pile into a small, dense one.
But that isn't what started the thought-chain. As a child we raked pecan leaves and there were always nuts left in the burning pile. Nuts exploded, blowing embers into the air.
In the South they're “PEE-cans,” elsewhere “puh-cons” or some variation but in places where they don't grow folks look down on us for calling them by their rightful name.
These days I groan over pecans lost. In south Georgia, where I grew up, pecans were everywhere. The nuts were so common people didn't bother picking them up. I didn't know the nuts were special until I saw stores on north-south highways advertising pecan candy.
Trips north took us through Barnesville, Ga., and past a sign that read: “Nuts did it.” It was the home office of B. Lloyd’s. Their stores were on principal north-south highways. All the B. Lloyd's stores are closed but they are in business under new ownership with pecan products available in stores and mail order.
While planning a Christmas open house for Kansas neighbors I thought to offer something purely from the South, a treat from my childhood. Pecans were abundant. My mother picked out perfect halves, coated them in butter, sprinkled some with sugar, some with salt and baked them.
Having gone most of a year without eating wheat, finding replacements for wheat flour has been an adventure. Pecan flour or meal is a substitute. I looked at the price of pecan flour in the store and nearly had a stroke. In other days I'd have had pecans on hand to grind myself, but not now. I didn't get much further than pricing a two pound bag of nuts. There went my idea of roasted pecans and clouds of pecan divinity for Kansas friends followed by my idea of grinding precious pecans.
These days some folks in south Georgia are scoping out pecan trees in overgrown lots and getting arrested for pilfering the nuts from yards and along roads. They all belong to someone and it is like picking up nickles.
Nuts, millions of tons of them, are going to Asia. Texas producers had an off year. The price is good and demand high for Georgia nuts.
Demand is pretty high around here too but I can wait until the price slides a bit.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.