Frizzi: Sometimes, I feel like a walnut

Log in to save this page.

I don't like working in the yard. I never did.

My wife Heddy loves it. She comes by it honestly. Everyone in her family loves to dig holes, plant plants and watch them grow. My neighbor, Vicky, has a backyard garden that would rival many municipal parks. I couldn't be happier for them. I enjoy their hard work and dedication as I sit in my chaise with a drink and gaze at their handiwork.

But to me, mowing lawns, raking leaves, trimming brush, cleaning gutters, building barns, shoveling snow etc., is the Seventh Circle of Hell.

It's not that I'm lazy, I just have better things to do with my time. There was a reason that I lived in an apartment complex in Dallas as a bachelor, where for almost seven years, I never dragged a rake, pushed a mower or shoveled snow.

I was that way as a kid. I tried every way imaginable to get out of doing these types of tortuous tasks. Of course, I failed. I was rebuffed by my parents with the biggest line of tripe I've heard to this day: "It builds character."

It no more built character in me than it did them or any other bi-ped on this planet!

Of course, Heddy and I ended up buying a home with a gargantuan back yard that I fondly call, "The North 40." That's fine. I can use the exercise, which, for me, is the Eighth Circle of Hell.

We have a brick patio off the back deck that's surrounded by a picket fence. It has a birdbath and a bird feeder. In the middle of the patio is a walnut tree.

I can remember the Realtor telling us in a wary tone of voice, " DOES have a....(ahem)....walnut tree"!

I knew nothing about walnut trees. I know as much about trees, flowers, weeds or any type of lawn growth as I do birthing babies. So, I thought it was cool that I could go outside to my patio, grab and crack open a tasty walnut whenever I so wanted.

That was six years ago when we moved in. I've learned plenty about walnut trees since then.

Did you know walnut trees only sprout walnuts every other year? And when they do, they... well, let's just say that every other year the tree apparently absorbs some sort of organic laxative. It's like Louis Armstrong fertilized walnut trees with "Swiss Kriss"!

You can't be mad at the tree. The tree is just doing what it's supposed to do. She gives us the only gift she can give us. It's the fruit of her loins. She's been lovingly dumping walnuts on her little place on this planet for years and years, well before I was plopped onto this rock.

I kind of feel sorry for the tree because no one wants her walnuts. You can't give them away. I'm guessing everyone around Washington has their own walnut crosses to bear.

I have tried a couple. A walnut is very tasty once you spend five minutes cracking the safe that it's in. I feel like I'm mining for coal. No wonder they called The Sopranos' Paulie Gualtieri, "Paulie Walnuts".

Now, the cursed nut-filled orbs are dropping full force. It's like London being bombed by the Nasties in World War Two! I sit in the house and hear the bombs drop on the roof. My cat is smart enough to take shelter in the "underground". My neighbor Rick (husband of Vicky the Gardener) gave me one of his hard hats in case I wanted to actually go into the back yard during the strafing.

Are we sure Isaac Newton wasn't sitting under a walnut tree?

I feel like I'm in the walnut episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show!" The one where Rob dreams he's invaded by Danny "Kolak" Thomas from the planet Twilo and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), slides out of the hall closet on a pile of walnuts while breaking girlish wind. Now, I know why my laptop is so sluggish. The walnuts are destroying the Earth's technological capacity! I'm checking my thumbs as we speak.

It also explains why Heddy has eyes in the back of her head!

This winter looks to be an exceptionally mean one, so I'm keeping the walnuts under the tree for the squirrels. Now, I've heard that walnuts can ferment over time and the squirrels can get a bit tipsy wben they eat them. The squirrels are part of the evil Rally tribe that infiltrate Cardinal Nation. Knowing that I am a fan of their hated rival Pirates, I get pelted with walnuts by a horde of drunk Cardinal quadrupeds! So as I watch the World Series here In the comfort of my home (located in the middle of "The Cardinal Vortex") I can hear the horrid thump... Thump... THUMP of walnuts off my roof.

I can't walk from our garage to the back door of the house without dodging, kicking or twisting my ankle over a walnut. One I pick up three walnuts, I find four more at my feet. I've even brought out a putter and putt them into the yard, making the "t-t-t-t-t-t" sound like Chevy Chase did in "Caddyshack".

One time, I got so mad that I picked up a handful of walnuts and fired them hard into the walnut tree. I imagined that's how Cleveland Indian Hall of Famer, Bob Feller honed his fastball skills at the family farm in Iowa. I only made the tree mad as it fired back a salvo of its own, forcing me to retreat back to the bunker.

My father-in-law has suggested that a friend of his would love to have the wood from the tree and would probably cut it down for us. But we decided against it. That tree has been a part of this house and this Earth way longer than I've been around. I guess it has as much right to be here as I do. In his autobiography, "Who I Am", Pete Townshend described his belief that trees were, in a sense, The Earth's veins and arteries, carrying life in and out of the soil. Or, in Pete's words, trees were "planetary breathing machines." Pretty trippy, but I like that thought.

Not long after the tree deposits its last walnut, winter will come. The rally squirrels will have plenty to eat for the dark season. It's nature's way. Besides, we won't see walnut one until 2015.

Let's face it. The tree and I will have, God willing, many years of our love- hate relationship. But I'd like it a lot better if it were a ticket oak!

"Who I Am", Written by Pete Townshend. Copyrighted 2012 by Pete Townshend. Published by Harper-Collins Publishers, New York.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).