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Pecan season

December 11, 2009


Pecan season is over for us; those we’ve picked up in the neighborhood haven’t been very good this year. A large number of them were rotten or dried out, and while I can open a shell and discard bad ones, my dogs chomp down and end up eating part or all of them. The pit bull spits them out if they’re bad, but I haven’t seen if the Catahoula actually rejects any of them (Poppy takes her nuts to the side of the porch to eat, afraid Cinnamon will mug her for it). We’re at the point in our walks when the dogs are still trying to veer back and forth across the street to check out the snacking possibilities under several trees, though we haven’t stopped to graze for a couple of weeks.

When I walk the dogs in the autumn I’m always reminded that they have a mental map of the neighborhood. Perhaps not as refined as the map squirrels cultivate to remember where they buried their nuts, but impressive nonetheless. The dogs, a Catahoula/blue heeler mix and an American Staffordshire Terrier, love to eat acorns, particularly the red oak (Shumard) variety. And they know every tree on our regular walk—they’ll eat live oak acorns if the red oak aren’t in season. If we walk up the middle of the street, they list from side to side, knowing they’re not supposed to pull on their leashes, but still wanting to strongly influence the direction we walk. Someone at the bottom of the hill watching us would see a drunken progression from side to side, and the staggering is even more fierce if a pecan tree is in the mix. If they like acorns, they adore pecans with a passion on a par with food scraps or their dog food. On days when I want to get in a walk swift enough to leave me puffing, I have to zigzag through the neighborhood, choosing the blocks with non-fruiting tree types in the front yards.

I’m sure I transmitted my intentions on the days I decided it was time to pick up pecans. We always set out for our walks with a brisk step, but as we approached the corner to head up to that one yard in particular, the dogs lean into the turn like a yoked team heading back to the barn. There’s no twitching of the leash to tell them where we’re headed.

I asked this neighbor, whose beautiful front yard has a pecan and a baldcypress, if I could collect nuts. He said yes. The first time I walked up there to gather some, the dogs hadn’t tried pecans, but as I picked them up they watched me and then started rooting. When they discovered the large wonderful nuts they ate them shell and all. On our pecan walks they’re like pigs rooting for truffles, only they get to eat the truffles.

Leashes become tangled as I try to pick up nuts before the dogs get to them, but because I am a creature with a different search method, I find this race to the pecans rather interesting. The dogs have good eyesight; enough to spot small distant prey, stalk, and catch it. But when they’re looking for something still and close by on the ground, they go by their noses. Sniffing for pecans is not practical for me, so I find them by feel, under my feet where they have slipped into the thick St. Augustine turf, or by sight, sitting in their hulls or out, on the lawn.

I know what you’re thinking. Pecan shells might not be good for dogs. I asked the vet—he said little dogs can have problems, the larger dogs don’t as often, but we’ve cut back and these days I mostly just give them occasional store-bought shelled nuts. They get plenty of other roughage out in the yard. This time of year piles of dog poop are so studded with hackberries that it looks kind of like dough for the filbert cookies I used to pick up at an Italian bakery in Brooklyn. Hackberries look like those rainbow peppercorns you see in gourmet shops, and my two pooches vacuum the back yard looking for the little morsels.

When they can, they mug a passing squirrel and steal his nuts.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. dreyadin permalink
    August 10, 2010 1:31 am

    LOL love your blog!

    As for the dog deposits.. we had rotties that loved stuffed animals and little kids. A neighbor who was moving offered 2 large garbage bags full of stuffed animals to our dogs who tore into the bags immediately to save their “puppies”. The first thing they do is remove any plastic eyes and noses…

    So you can imagine what our yard was like.. easy to clean as the piles were staring back at you.

  2. sandysays1 permalink
    December 11, 2009 1:38 pm

    We canines have all kind of hidden talents, its just that most humans don’t have enough vision to utilize them. A one paw salute to you for being a superior thinker in a species that isn’t always very sharp! Visit me at for some Christmas laughs.

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