Oh, nuts! Better watch your step

In our neck of the woods, it’s been a hard mast, meaning hard-shelled nuts have fallen in much higher-than-normal levels.

While the uncommon profusion is attributed to an unpredictable confluence of factors, it does provide a feast for squirrels, deer, and other wildlife. Any surplus surviving the predators then has a good chance to refurbish the forests and byways.

As has been noted, nature really is promiscuous.

Lean years, in contrast, limit the animal populations and their offspring.

Mast is most notably reported as acorns, but in our house, overshadowed by a black walnut tree, the golf ball-sized orbs are hammering the kitchen roof and trashcans. We keep thinking people are knocking at our backdoor or something big has fallen over downstairs or outside or even a crazy golfer neighbor is slicing his shots and hitting our house, one-two-three. They’re even a hazard to our parked cars.

Meanwhile, our squirrels are littering the stoops, patio table and chairs, and driveway with messes of shells that stain anything underneath black – is that the origin of black in the walnut variety’s name? But that’s not the only problem.

No, the nuts are so plentiful they make venturing out into the yard a treacherous course akin to walking on ball bearings or marbles. We haven’t fallen yet, but we’ve come close.

It’s especially troublesome when I have a load of firewood in my arms.

We aren’t alone in this, are we?

The bright blue line threading upward on the right side is a garden hose, providing a size comparison for the dangerous green globes filling much of the rest of the photos. Yes, they are fallen walnuts, which are still raining down on our house.

 

I’m still offended

I hate being labeled in a demographic targeted with mailings that ask questions like this:

Is it hearing loss, or just … EARWAX?

I can still use a Q-tip, thank you. Now will they please go away?

 

Meet a Quaker

Many of the Dover’s churches have their booths at the city’s annual Apple Harvest Day festival, and the Quaker meeting is no exception. Here we are making the most of our past to let people know we’re still thriving today. We handed out homemade cookies – 1,162 of them baked the night before – and had kids pitch in to hand-crank grains of oats into oatmeal. The Quaker Oats company, by the way, was never owned by Quakers – they just liked our reputation for honesty and quality.

Ten essential cheeses

When I was growing up, cheese in our household was almost exclusively of the processed variety. Some even came out of a jar, like yellow glue. Grandma and Grandpa would have the real stuff – Colby longhorn or a bitter Swiss, mostly. It wasn’t until I was off on my own after college – and in the ashram, especially – that I discovered how marvelous natural cheese could be.

Here are ten favorites.

  1. Cheddar. These days, we rely on Cabot. Mild to sharp, it’s all good.
  2. Calef’s. A general store in a neighboring town makes its own, starting with rat trap but extending into cheddar. The roasted garlic and wasabi variations are special treats here, especially after picking apples.
  3. Mozzarella. Lovely stringiness for pizzas and French onion soup.
  4. Parmesan. Grated on soups, pastas, and salads, of course, but also delightful with eggplant.
  5. Feta. Let’s start on salads for a Greek twist.
  6. Baby Swiss. Especially when made by nearby Amish cooperatives as I learned living in Ohio.
  7. Provolone. Love it on sandwiches, hot or cold.
  8. Gruyere. Uncork a wine, too, and open the crackers.
  9. Gouda. Ditto. With a sliced apple, anyone?
  10. Cream. For bagels and cheesecakes, especially.

What would you add to the list?

How long has that hyphen been there?

Central Fire Station, Dover, New Hampshire.

After years of taking the same route, have you ever been startled to look up and see something striking for the first time?

I’ve driven or walked past this almost daily for the past 20 years but simply hadn’t noted the one detail. The 9-11 in the address.

Take a close look at that sign.

Firefighters across the Northeast feel deeply about their fallen brothers in the World Trade Center attacks, especially those afflicted later by the toxic consequences. Dover’s professionals are no exception, as the mural painted across the back of the Central Station parking lot proclaims.

The mural reflects the department’s solidarity with the wider brotherhood of firefighters.

When I gazed up and saw that hyphen in 9-11, I thought they had inserted it in the street address – 911 – perhaps as a sign of continuing support.

The building next door, at 7 Broadway.

Then my eyes caught the address next door – 7 – and I realized the station sits at 9 and 11 Broadway, where it’s been for more than a century. How coincidental, then, that its address would line up with a much later significance.