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Monday, April 22, 2024

EDITORIAL

Dear Mr. Red Squirrel,

I do not appreciate how much you yelled at me because I wouldn’t share my hazelnut harvest with you. After all, you didn’t share with me. Can you imagine my disappointment when I went out into MY hazelnut shrubs and came out with just one lil’ lonely pod in my big ol’ ice cream bucket?

Don’t worry. I was over it pretty quickly and found it humorous how fast the many nuts disappeared. I was also grateful for your theft. It confirmed that it was time and, when it is time to pick hazelnuts, there is no time to waste.

Knowing all your rodent cousins and bears and deer would know what you knew, I really hoped it wasn’t too late to find some we could enjoy throughout the winter, as well. I went out into the woods to find out and you know very well I was successful.

What you don’t know, I bet, is the hazelnuts we are in competition for are called “beaked hazelnuts,” due to the husk looking a bit like a bird’s beak. (The rounder-husked ones are American hazelnuts. I wouldn’t mind finding some of those, too. Do you know where those are? Would you tell me if you did?)

Humans, like me, have to be quite dedicated to beaked hazelnut foragers. I’m not sure how you handle all those tiny bristly spines from the outside of the husk. Even wearing gloves, I still get them everywhere. They embed into my fingers and my clothes and are quite obnoxious. Do they stick to you, too?

Maybe 5% of the nuts that I husked and put on a tray to dry had been inhabited by a filbert weevil. I watched one chew its way out, sticking its little head out, popping it back in, chewing the hole bigger and bigger until it could get out. I heard you know how to tell if a nut or acorn has a resident inside and that those are your favorite. A tasty little bit of protein on the go. They gross me out. I’d much rather see no weevil.

It must’ve felt like I was taunting you when I dumped about ten gallons of hazelnuts (one gallon of actual nuts after husking and processed) onto a tarp in the yard to dry and prevent mold. I knew it was iffy to leave them out there in your sight but hoped the dogs would deter you.

I spent hours a day husking and you were my constant companion. It was painful enough dealing with all the pins and needles of the hazelnuts, the hornets, and the heat. Then there you were, trilling at me in high-pitched rap-id-fire chirps. You’re so loud that I can pin-point which pine or shrub you were watching me from. When I spotted you, I saw how you jerk your tail along with every chirp. You drove me nuts!

Just so you know, when I went back out into the woods this weekend, the nuts were few and far between. The window closing, it took a long time to pick a gallon (a cup or two processed).

Hazelnuts are hard won. Nut-thing compares to wild treats. You can’t blame me for hoarding them, just as you do.

Hoping we can call a truce on our squarrel,

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