Pinecone Meadow Farm has a stand of black walnut trees in the "way back." I view my plot in three parts. In the front are the maple trees. In the back is the back yard and the vegetable garden. In the way back is essentially tundra. No, I should rephrase. That's the meadow part of Pinecone Meadow. It's suffered from benign neglect, but at some point a forward-thinking farmer decided to plant a row of black walnut trees.
I learned that black walnuts engage in an interesting form of chemical warfare by sending toxins through their roots that kill other plants, including tomatoes. Since I harvested about a hundred pounds of tomatoes this season, I'm guessing they were planted far enough away. All clear for now.
And black walnuts also are a delicious food, with a bit more of a forward flavor that regular walnuts. And now I know why they're so pricey at the store. Because it's all but impossible to get the bloody things open. My cousins Vicki and Sue harvested some, staining their fingers along the way. And months later I still have shelled nuts calling out to be enjoyed. I envision a walnut tart lovingly removed from the oven, an embellishment for my signature granola, spiced and caramelized for little hostess gifts.
Instead, they sit in their bowl, impervious to hammers and plyers and any other tool I can think to try. Now I've resolved to send my request to the universe so that someone can help me enjoy them at last. OK, universe, your turn.