Father-in-law once told me that you plant a pecan tree for your grandchildren. The look on my face must have given away my confusion because he then elaborated that pecan trees are slow growing and if you plant one late in life, late as in over forty, you may not get to taste the fruits of your labor but your grandchildren definitely will. Wiser words were never spoken.
This majestic tree was planted about twenty years ago, it began bearing fruit about five years ago. Unfortunately, Hank and I have yet to taste any of the pecans.
For the past five years, the ground at the base of the tree has been littered with pecan shells.
The first year I noticed this I was stumped, I couldn't imagine who or what would want to eat green pecans, much too bitter to be palatable. Since the yield that first year was minuscule, I chalked it up as a weird occurrence and didn't give it another thought. When it happened again in years two, three, and four I had a discussion with Hank on just what the heck was going on. He suggested that it was probably the crows or squirrels. I was dubious, why would animals want to eat something that was not yet ripe? So weird.
This year I was determined to find out just what the heck was going on with the pecans. I really would like to taste them! About four weeks ago I began to notice the shell casings at the base of the tree. Every time I'd walk Dog I'd look around to see if I could spy what was making such a mess. I hadn't seen a thing, not a crow, not a squirrel, not an alien. Nothing. I was beginning to think maybe there was some sort of worm infestation that was causing the nuts to disintegrate or blow up when they came in contact with the ground.
Three days ago, Dog went into the pasture adjacent to the pecan tree to do some spelunking. I waited under the pecan, enjoying the shade while she galavanted about. As I stood there I could hear something. I listened closely trying to figure out where it was coming from, it sounded like a combination of scratching and tapping. As I listened, out of the corner of my eye I saw something fall, something small, like a nutshell. I looked up into the tree but could see nothing, other than the swaying of the branches. I listened again and saw shells falling again. I looked up into the tree and still I saw nothing. Obviously, whatever it was that was up there is what's been feasting on our pecans.
Today, while Dog once again explored the same area she's been exploring for the past week, I stood, again, under the pecan. Again, I heard the scratching-tapping combo. This time when I looked up, I saw the culprit. It tried oh so hard to blend in with the branches and leaves, pressing itself into the branch, holding its breath while I peered up into the tree. I had caught that sorry squirrel red handed. I ran, who am I kidding, I walked, to the house to get my camera so I could take its picture for my wanted poster but my the time I got back, it was gone. Or, maybe, it had moved farther up the tree and was laughing silently its mocking laugh, 'bahahaha, you can't catch me I'm faster and smarter than you'!
Somewhere up in the nether branches of this tree is a squirrel, perhaps an entire gang of squirrels, waiting, mocking, tagging my yard with their pecan litter.
Be warned my furry friends, keep eating these...
...and you're going to get fat, fat squirrels can't run fast. If Dog were a few years younger, you'd be shaking in your boots, or whatever it is you wear. In her hey-day she made mincemeat out of your relatives. You can serpentine all you want but I will have you, you will be mine. I will get out my B-B gun, I will learn to make squirrel stew, well, ok maybe that's a bit much, the stew not the gun. Before anyone comes to the defense of these overgrown rats, they are rodents that carry disease, pestilence, and who knows what else. These are not the cute little Chip and Dale Disney characters, nor Alvin and his brothers, oh, wait, those are chipmunks. Ah, whatever, they're cousins.
I'm willing to share the pecans with all of Nature's little creatures, if they'd leave enough pecans for a pie, or enough to toast in the oven, I'd be happy, I'm not selfish, however they are. They eat every. last. pecan. Gluttonous rodents.