In the distance the muted sound of a single gun shot. I crouched low, waiting. 




In the dark corner of the alley way, I could not be sure of the direction of the gun fire. It was obvious the fight was escalating. 

The sound echoed, it was difficult to tell how many gunmen were out there among the deserted buildings. 


The rapid fire of an automatic weapon, followed by silence. One minute, two minutes, still I waited, barely wanting to breathe. 

Nearby, I heard a hushed voice. “Indy? Indy?” A hand reached out and touched my shoulder. “Indy ? Indy? Indy…ff? Jeff? Jeff? are you awake?”

family, natureI woke up…on my back deck…grinned sheepishly at my wife…and admitted I must have fallen asleep. “The Curse of the Black Walnut” was not the latest Indiana Jones adventure and no, I was not Harrison Ford. The pop-pop-popping was not the sound of gun fire. “The Curse of the Black Walnut” was the sound of dozens and dozens of walnuts falling from the trees and covering the ground; covering the ground where we had just spent the last four hours picking up walnuts.

A little over three years ago, we moved into our dream home. A nice home on about four acres, Mud Creek running through the backyard, a small white barn, a meadow, some woods and 28 Black Walnut trees in the back. The first fall we lived in the house, hundreds of walnuts fell to the ground. It was a pain, but honestly we didn’t think much about it. The former homeowner teased us a bit, but we shrugged it off.

The second year, Indiana had suffered a pretty severe drought. There were very few walnuts.

This year? This year was different. The walnuts began falling in mid-August. At first, it was easy to keep up with them. (Especially easy for me since Carmen did most of the “picking”). She would spend an hour or so a couple times a week walking the yard and picking up the nuts. She devised an ingenious method of using the old “pooper scooper” we had saved after our dogs had passed. She was able to pick up the nuts without the backbreaking job of bending over all the time. Even so, it was tough work.

As we got deeper into fall, more and more walnuts began to fall. It was now impossible to pick them all up in a single evening. In fact, it took three or four nights and by the time we got done, more had fallen. By this time, we had ordered another “pooper scooper” so we could both work.

The peak (we hope) was this past Saturday. We both worked for four hours to pick up all the walnuts. The yard was cleared. Carmen went inside and I sat down on the deck to rest and close my eyes a bit. About that time, the wind picked up. Pop. Pop. Pop-pop! Pop-pop-pop!

I can’t tell you how many walnuts we have picked up this season, exactly. What I can tell you is that a “pooper scooper” family, natureholds about 30 walnuts. Dumping those scoops into a wheelbarrow, we count 20 – 30 scoops to a load. I have lost track of the number of wheelbarrow loads I have dumped, but I am guessing it is closing in on a hundred. Do the math, THAT my friends is a LOT of walnuts.

So while the “The Curse of the Black Walnut” may not star Harrison Ford, I have PLENTY of cursing for those damn walnuts!

If anything you read here or in other posts strikes a chord, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment, hit me up on Twitter (@jtongici), find me on LinkedIn, or Google +.

If that were all it were, I would probably be OK with it. However, I do have a problem with it, not with bourbons, scotches or beers, mind you, but with trash, pounds and pounds of trash. GarbageHaulSmallA couple of times a week, we have to walk our 800 feet of road frontage and pick up trash. A couple of times a year, our neighbors have to join together to do a much larger clean up. Seriously, in this day and age, littering is still a problem?

The trash we pick up ranges from the Big Gulp Styrofoam cups, McDonald’s sacks, every imaginable brand of soft drink cans, to an unfathomable number of beer cans, beer bottles, vodka bottles, whiskey bottles, etc. etc. etc. For the record, these alcohol bottles are empty and thrown from cars…and we have an open container law? There is even one guy that must have a serious problem because we find an empty pint bottle of Jim Beam every Monday. I even sat behind a red pickup the other day, when the driver opened the window of his cab, stuffed a bag of McDonald’s trash out of it and threw it, not into the bed of his truck, but right on the side of the road. My honk, only drew a one fingered salute. Seriously?

We live in one of the most picturesque parts of our city. A few minutes east of one the largest shopping malls and one of the busiest intersections in the state, you descend into beautiful wooded valley. Trees overhang the road on both sides, a creek meanders through meadows and yards. It is quiet (except for the speeders who think it is a drag race, but that is ANOTHER post), it feels as if you are out in the country, not a part of a major metropolitan area.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4ozVMxzNAA&w=420&h=315]

There are only a few houses in this area, so most of the cars are “passing through” on their way to one of the most affluent suburbs in the region. When I drive through those areas, I do not see roadside trash scattered on their manicured lawns, it seems as if, they have decided to literally trash our road instead of their own.  Where do they think that trash goes? Who do they think cleans it up? (btw, some ends up in our rivers and streams see my previous post  A Dishwasher, two hot water heaters, and a hide-a-bed )  Do they not care what it looks like to drive by miles of soft drink cups? Seriously?

I fantasize about tracking some of the litterers down and dumping their trash onto their lawn, but that would make me no better then them. I have thought about collecting the trash and building a monument for all to see, but then I would just have to look at it (and people would probably litter more). Seriously?

I really can’t think of a solution for ignorance. I can’t think of a way to make people care.  Until then, we will continue to pick up after them and pray they don’t wrap their car around one of our trees. Seriously!

If anything you read here or in other posts strikes a chord, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment, hit me up on Twitter (@jtongici), find me on LinkedIn, or Google +.