Why, at my great age, do I still feel compelled to pick up conkers? When I was younger, I used to maintain that I filled my briefcase with them on the way to work for my young son to play with. But, to be honest, in retrospect, it was for my own benefit. They are such lovely things to look at – the colours, patterns, shapes – and are wonderful to touch – smooth, satiny, and cool. I have in the past filled my pockets with them – turning them around like rosary beads as I walk. I have stacked them in baskets and in bowls around the house to admire until the shine disappears and the shape wrinkles and crinkles. I met a man scrabbling around on the ground beneath the horse chestnut trees in Sherren Avenue the other day. He was a bit embarrassed to be found picking up conkers. He said he didn’t really know why he did it. But I know – because I will always find them one of the most attractive of fruits of autumn
Me too …..
I collected them when I was young (we have few horse chestnut trees around here and so they’re hard to find). My grandfather introduced them to me and I’ve always loved them for all the reasons you mention. We called them “Buckeyes” – I don’t know why, because they resemble a deer’s big brown lustrous eyes?- and it was a good thing to carry one in your pocket to rub for good luck. Each fall my grandfather would make sure I had some just for this purpose. What memories you’ve brought back to me.
It is so interesting how these autumn fruits (or is it seeds) are part of our respective cultures and memories
It looks like a poor crop of conkers here in Hampshire this year, The trees in our village are empty.
What a lovely narrative to go with your excellent photos, Jessica. I have the same weakness for these beautiful objects.