30 Oct An old wives’ tale
It’s conker time! October winds knock lime green spheres to the grass, spiked sheaths spear the earth where they fall. Three horse chestnut trees stand on a triangular piece of ground near my house, have stood there for decades, their strong limbs reach out beyond the perimeter of their island which is set in the fork of a road. I walk beneath them with caution, though what I could do to prevent being hit on the head by nature’s missiles I don’t know, other than opening an umbrella, which of course would look silly and suggest to my neighbours that I’m downright soft.
Overnight hundreds of conkers have fallen, many lay on the tarmac squashed to pulp by early morning lorries. The safe ones, those that landed on the grass, warm themselves in the filtered autumn sunshine. Some have already split their armoured casings to reveal nuts with outsize creamy white eyes and oily brown skins.
I came prepared. With carrier bag in hand and wearing leather gloves my upper body hinges forward to harvest. I’m too old to squat and don’t dare to try because once down I could be grounded indefinitely. It may be undignified to be seen tramp-like on the village green with my bum in the air but I don’t care, I’m foraging with purpose.
An old wives’ tale it may be and it’s never been proved scientifically but, within an hour of collection, piles of fresh conkers adorn my window sills. They keep the spiders away. So they say.