There is a fine mystery in this black walnut tree. And if I sit silently for long enough, maybe I’ll hear what it is.
I look at her every day before dawn, starting when I can just make her out against the sky. Being near her feels like being near someone who is benevolent, powerful, rich and wise. And somewhat intolerant.
She’s like a queen.
Walnut trees make beautiful, hard, rich brown wood, expensive and much prized. The nuts have a sweet, musky, woods-dirt flavor that reminds me of truffles. They are locked away in a troll’s purse of rock-hard nutshell, and you really, really have to want the nutmeats to do the hammer-and-pick work of shelling them. Just a handful will flavor a pound cake, but it will take you forever to get them, and your fingers can be stained black from the effort.
When the green nuts fall, if you think you might want some but you’ll come back to pick them up tomorrow, never mind. The squirrels don’t mind doing the work, and they don’t take coffee breaks.
Black walnut trees are also very territorial. They select who they keep company with, and other plants have to be able to tolerate the environment in the Queen’s court. By that measure the Resurrection Fern is the smoothest of diplomats, making a living literally in her arms. On the bottom branch on the right of this tree there is a deep rug of resurrection fern, which expands and contracts with the weather, wet or dry. We’re in a damp bottomland in the elbow of Tannery Branch, so the fern is prospering.
This morning I got a very clear feeling from The Queen, that she’s aware of her beauty, and the importance of her work providing food and shelter and a creative kingdom all her own. She doesn’t seem to mind my staring at her until my eyes burn. But I am wary of trying to get too close.
I will wait before getting my ladder and climbing up to join the resurrection fern.