Looking around we noticed two more stately and venerable trees on the other side of a chain link fence where there were more cars parked. After Julie started gathering pecans I began to wonder if we were ever going to get back to the festival. I seriously thought she had forgotten about the festival entirely and was now determined to spend as much time gathering nuts as possible. Julie loves getting free food in this way--gleaned from wild plants. She has been known to go nuts gathering autumn olive berries.
|Our total wild fruit and nut score--including a heaping bushel basket of pecans|
We did get back to the festival, but only after spending at least an hour and a half picking and gathering pecans. The husks on the nuts had just begun to open, dumping delicious pecans on the ground. With the help of a stick we were able to knock even more nuts from their shells onto the ground. Some of the neighboring trees were climbable so we climbed up and picked the nuts directly. A man came out to tell us that the parking area was his land and though he didn't mind us gathering the nuts, they wouldn't be any good if we picked them before they opened. It turned out this wasn't true. All the nuts we got turned out to be fine and all of them have been delicious so far.
Before we left the town, we were driving around scouting out pecan trees that might be available for gathering and we happened upon one on what appeared to be the property of a church. We went in to ask if we could pick them and they didn't even seem to know they had a pecan tree on their land. They said it was fine if we picked them. So we spent another hour and a half knocking down nuts and picking them off the ground. All told we ended up with about 30 pounds of nuts in their shells, which will amount to almost 15 pounds of nuts shelled.
While in the Mountain View area we also found a hickory tree that had the biggest nuts I've ever seen on a hickory and they happened to be delicious as well. Although they are much harder to crack and get the meat from, the hickories have a flavor that is superior to pretty much any other nut I can think of.
We also found a number of wild persimmons on a couple of trees. I hadn't been a fan of persimmons in the past because I'd eaten one too early, before it had fully ripened and my mouth was more or less sealed shut with the fruit's astringency. I can imagine what Wile E. Coyote must have felt like when he ate a bunch of Alum. But this season I was given a properly bletted persimmon fruit and have wanted to get as many of the things as I can lay my hands on ever since. They are comparable in flavor and uniqueness to (though they taste nothing like) a mango when they are ripe enough.
|Hickory nuts roasting on a campfire|
I suspect we will be trying to make it back to the Bean festival in future years. If not to listen to the great bluegrass music and to eat stewed beans, then to gather more pecans.
|Inside the hickory nut|