NORMAN — When I tell people that I grew up on a Kansas hayfield, they automatically assume I have a green thumb, which is funny since I can’t even grow weeds sometimes.
It’s no secret that my thumb is not even in the green family. I wish I could blame my gene pool, but I remember my grandmother having the loveliest of apple trees in her backyard. From that tree would come applesauce — that and hours of entertainment with my cousins of throwing rotten apples at each other. Lovely memories.
My mother used to grow a garden in the summers, too. We’d have green beans and potatoes. One year, we actually got to the tomatoes before the bugs ate them all.
Perhaps my inability to grow things come from my father’s side of the fence. One of my fondest Christmas Day memories was when the fire trucks showed up at the house because Dad decided it was a great day to burn off the garden in preparation for next year’s crop.
He would have gotten by with it, too, had the wind not shifted directions. It was shortly after that Mom started hiding the matches; this wasn’t his first offense with setting the field on fire.
But there is hope. After living in my house for seven years, I’ve finally managed to produce a crop, and a hearty crop it is. When we first moved into our house, the pecan tree in the backyard was barely taller than me.
I’m sure it was planted to keep the summer evening sun from blasting the living room. Which, I’m happy to report, the branches and leaves have worked successfully together to make my living room a shady evening retreat. My air conditioner also is grateful.
I’d never given much thought to the fact that a pecan tree might one day actually produce pecans. Until this summer. I first noticed the fruit — look at me using fancy pecan grower terms already — this summer. At first look, my city slicker side wondered what had happened to the tree.
Oh, great, I thought, the tree is finally tall enough to generate some shade, and now it’s got a fungus.
Upon closer inspection, I realized that was no fungus, I’d hit pecan payday. The tree is almost full to the brim with yummy, delicious pecans. It’s like looking at a tree filled with pecan pies. Roasted pecans. Cinnamon pecans. Pecan pralines.
When my eyes first spotted all of pecan paradise perfections, my fingers couldn’t type the words “pecan recipes” into an online search engine fast enough.
Now my feelings toward the pecan tree have switched gears. I feel more like a father-to-be pacing around the waiting room while his wife gives birth to their first-born. I’ve got my sleeves rolled up, cigars ready to hand out and I’ve got my list of phone numbers to call when the delivery time hits to inform family and friends. I keep looking at my watch. I keep dabbing my forehead with my handkerchief. I keep waiting.
I’m not quite sure what to do next, other than religiously check on my pecans. Apparently, thanks again to the Internet, I’m supposed to just wait patiently until those pretty pecans just drop to the ground. I hope those pecans know that I’ve already set the timer on the oven, and they’d better get with the program.