Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Rediscover the Joys of Chestnuts

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Rediscover the Joys of Chestnuts

Article excerpt

I hadn't noticed chestnuts for years. But there they were: high up, pale green, swinging from the tree branches, and dropping with a thunk onto the sidewalk. Most of them landed intact, their thorny exteriors protecting the treasure that lay within. "They're chestnuts," I said to my sons, Mike and Daniel.

Mike hopped off the back of the stroller while Daniel twisted around to see his brother stoop over and examine the spiked sphere.

"Go ahead, stomp on it," I said. Mike touched it with the toe of his sneaker.

"No, harder," I urged.

He pressed his heel down and the green ball exposed only the white flesh inside. He looked up puzzled.

"Like this," I said, and showed him how.

My swift step produced a shiny reddish-brown prize. "That's a chestnut."

Mike bent over and seized it. "Chestnut! It's so shiny."

Daniel strained under his stroller harness. I unbuckled him, and the two ran up and down the walkway finding chestnuts to stomp on.

"Big one," said Daniel, as he held a chestnut in his small fingers.

"This one has two," Mike said, as he stuffed them into his bulging pockets.

I suddenly felt a thrill that I had stopped experiencing a long time ago. An old joy had returned.

I have always been the sort of person who lives with an eye on the future. An additional work assignment might turn into an opportunity to advance, even though it would ruin my weekend. An empty, gently worn plastic container may serve as a necessary tool in my next home or cooking project.

Before Mike and Daniel were born, on the rare day I stayed home from work, I would hear children's laughter echo from the schoolyard nearby as kids ran around during recess. Their high-pitched voices seemed pleasantly dissonant to my life in the adult world, where weighty problems were solved at meetings that swallowed up dinnertime or required 6 a.m. flights fanning to points south, north, or west.

Back then, I'd heard the quaint sayings about the blessings of children and how they were little miracles. But the words always had the hollow ring of my grandparents' stories about the days before television.

I didn't really know how much motherhood would connect me to my past. …

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