We haven't had a hard frost yet; there are more leaves on the trees than on the ground. The chestnut tree, which shades my hammock chair in the summer and gives me a wonderful place to relax, is now off limits.
The plentiful nuts are dropping to the ground, and I won't even walk under the tree for fear of being struck by one of the barbed hulls. The brown spiked missiles are sharp enough to puncture leather . The falling bombs skitter off of the leaves below them in unpredictable trajectories so that the hulls cover the ground under the canopy and five feet beyond.
I wish every fruiting tree in my yard produced like these worthless bothers. Last year my husband raked and gathered 30 wheelbarrows full.
The nuts themselves are as alluring as the hulls are repulsive. They are glossy, deeply red-brown. The skin is smooth and the nuts fit in my palm and invite me to caress them. Surely something so alluring would be good. Or so I thought. But whether I put them in chocolate nut pudding, or baked them, they were unappetizing. Then I glued them onto a wreath to display their beauty. No value there either, the color faded and worms wiggled through. Yech!
I gave up on the nuts, and the next year concentrated on the hulls. Instant fire starters? No,they burned too slowly.
Finally we found a use for a small fraction of the spiny shells. My husband dumped a load down the hole the ground hog had dug from his home to our garden. There was no way any critter would risk the pain of burrowing through the hulls. The ground hog found another way out.
Always looking for a profit (metaphorically, not financially), chestnuts teach a twofold lesson. Number one, what we find alluring may be corrupted. The exterior is only as valuable as the soundness of the interior.
And number two, if you try hard enough, can find something worthwhile in the prickliest of situations.