Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cracking Nuts


In my flash memoir workshops I exhort my students to work on their mnemonic impulses, to take paper and pen and jot down that niggling memory that pops into their heads and in the next instance is gone.

I had one the other day. Actually I get 6 or 7 in any given hour of the waking day, but they largely go ignored. But, this one, I actually wrote down.

Cracking nuts.

It begins smallish and then works on you. I asked myself: Who cracks nuts anymore? You see, it’s getting to that nut cracking time of year. And, on my counter I had a small bag of nuts given to me by a Polish man who said they were from his own tree over in the old country. This was around Marathon time when I was hosting. He also gave me 2 heirloom apples from his yard and those were the BEST APPLES EVER. So, I had high hopes for these walnuts.

Except I had to find something to bust them open. All the while remembering. Remembering how my mother used to force us kids to crack nuts like chain-gang prisoners consigned to the rock piles. We’d sit around newspapers spread out on the floor and crack until our fingers bled. Why didn’t she buy them already cracked? I now ponder. Maybe she was saving us money or supplying us with memories that will follow us around for the rest of our life.

Which then led me to feel sorry for kids these days who have no experience cracking nuts and pulling those meaty walnut halves out of the shell and trying to pluck that membrane out of the middle. They have no idea what this is like. So when I sat down one evening before a meeting in my living room to tackle the nuts, people arriving early for the meeting wanted to help. They all wanted to take a turn cracking the nuts. And, eating them. We managed to have the meeting—and make memories too.

Now years hence, maybe the young people in my living room will remember the time they came to my house and ended up cracking and eating these wonderful nuts from the Polish guy.

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