When I was in primary school, part of my path was lined with huge old Horse Chestnut trees. Even before they fell to the ground I would stop and see if any nuts were ripe enough to knock down. It mattered not whether I was on my way to school or returning home; I would spend timeless minutes stomping on the prickly fruit, doing my best to expose the smooth, shiny nut within.
In some ways I am still the little boy. Through lessons learned I often watch trees and keep an eye for their fruit. Today it is often a discarded piece of wood for my lathe from something fallen. I don’t fill my pockets with chestnuts but I do carry three or four marbles. I see a similar currency now as I did then. My marbles and chestnuts are worthless but they have purchased hours of amusement for generations.
With my brothers and friends we devised or inherited a game. We would dig a hole in the center of the nut and knot a string through. They became war clubs and we would surrender each to the blows of another. The chestnut that didn’t crack was the victor. Sometimes it was the one laid on the ground and other times it was the one swung downwards. Resilience is a funny thing.
When I see chestnuts as an adult I am still drawn to pull the shiny nut from the prickly shell. Like the Crackerjacks I ate those days; the prize is on the inside.