On Saturday Nathanael asked me whether I had any plans for the day. When I told him I did not, he responded, "Good. Because I do."
We got out our tandem bike and rode a short distance to an area beside the road where a few pecan trees grew and spent the morning collecting pecans. I thought it was the most wonderful fall activity. The light was beautiful in the shade of the trees, and we were usually not too far from each other, which allowed us to talk while we collected. And, unlike berry picking, with pecan collecting there is no danger of squishing what you collect or eating them as you go.
Pecans are prevalent in Southern desserts, none of which I have yet attempted, so our efforts were not only recreational, but also a bit frugal. Shelled pecans from orchards are ordinarily sold for six to nine dollars a pound depending on the size of the nut pieces (halves, chopped or ground), but pecan trees are sprinkled in along roads and sidewalks. On Saturday, each tree we encountered had nuts that were a slightly different size or shape; some being too small to seem worth it, and some being long and narrow. Most of the nuts we collected were just a little smaller than the ones you can purchase at the grocery store, but the meats have a soft golden skin instead of the chestnut brown one that is classic in stores. I think they also have a better flavor, but it might just be their freshness ringing through.
After about two hours, we collected around 6 quarts of nuts. One huge bowlful. If you look closely you can see a few of the different shapes and sizes we came across. Later in the day we went out and purchased a super duper nut cracker for ourselves. It will take a little practice to consistantly achieve unbroken nut meats, but attempting to do so is an addicting challenge.
The next day our Sunday school class was kindly invited for a riverside picnic at one of the member's homes, followed by nut collecting beneath their 20 pecan trees. Nathanael and I thought it not only sounded like fun, but that we might learn something from the locals about how to collect and crack the nuts more efficiently. We entered the address into google maps, and seeing that it was only three miles away, hopped on our bike and road off to another adventure. I am not sure why we momentarily disregarded previously being told, "You will see cows," and rode straight downtown looking for the address. When we failed to find the farmhouse downtown we headed the other direction on the road, hoping the numbering would start over soon and we would come to the same address not too far away. Strangely, that single road re-numbered itself more than four times in the same city and we still did not encounter our destination.
We saw a lot of cows. I waved and said hi.
After a while I just assumed we must have missed it altogether, but there were always intriguing bends ahead, so Nathanael drove us onward....onward....onward. When we hit a new county we decided to stop and eat our picnic lunch on top of the levee and then attempt to find a more direct route home, but some kind passersby informed us there were some houses just a little further down the road.
And so, after biking just a few miles further, we found it!
Our hostess was impressed with our excursion (just short of two hours), and also sorry she had forgot to mention the address was in a different city. After a second lunch, we spent just half an hour collecting pecans and came away with a stash even larger than the one from the day before! We received a ride home, which was definitely a relief, and our bike was returned to us a couple of days later. We enjoyed our bike ride, but if I had known we would be pedaling so far I would not have worn sandals or allowed Nathanael to carry so heavy of a backpack. When we mapped out our route that evening we discovered we had gone 26.3 miles.
Phew! It was quite a memorable weekend.