Hickory Nut

Worldwide pandemics – they aren’t so great for one’s mood. Luckily, there are steps we can take to make the best of our lives within this unprecedented framework. Coffee, laughter, meditation, prayer, the use of virtual technology to connect with friends and family – all of this helps.

My favorite coping mechanism (other than blogging) is a trail walk in one of Ottawa County’s many outstanding parks. Sometimes it’s the smell of evergreens at Pigeon Creek, or the call of the sandhill cranes at Upper Macatawa Natural Area, or the seagulls that walk the sand with me in comforting solidarity at North Beach . . .

And sometimes it’s a chance interaction with a kind stranger. Yesterday, walking in a heavily wooded area of the paved trail at Upper Macatawa (still listening to Lois McMaster Bujold’s extraordinary Paladin of Souls), I came upon two e-bike riders parked at the side of the trail. The woman, with a bright smile, said “hickory nuts!” She held a double handful of the nuts, which she had been carefully pouring into a container held by her presumed husband. She shared that this particular windfall was free from squirrel damage and worms (ugh). “People say they’re awful – but you have to let them dry until Thanksgiving.” She gave me a nut.

I finished my walk with this hickory nut in my pocket, feeling (extremely) euphoric as I hit four miles, listening to the ducks and cranes and enjoying the setting sun.

If you know a friendly woman in the Holland/Zeeland area who rides the Macatawa trails and gathers hickory nuts, please thank her for me. She helped to turn my day around.

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