The Cactus Patch
Volume 16       July 2013      Number 7

The Gathering of the Nuts and Other Memories
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

“I’m a little Acorn brown, lying on the cold, cold ground
Everybody steps on me, that is why I’m cracked you see;
I’m a Nut x (lateral click), Nut x, Nut xx.”

On the 18th of May we saw an art exhibit called “The Yellow Brick Road”. It was, of course, paintings of Oz scenes. Unlike the previous Alice exhibit which was a one woman show, however, it featured a number of artists. I took the tin man made of tin cans which I bought at last year’s BCSS yard sale and posed by a painting of the Tin Woodman of Oz. Of course I had to help myself to one of the candy Tin Man hearts. (Long ago, I played the role of the Tin Man at BHS.)

At the same time John went to a caving conference at Millerton Lake. There is a cave with a river that empties into the lake! Who knew? I wish I had been there for one of the presentations. The speaker showed pictures of a cave in Australia which winds among giant stacks of Stromatolites (fossil blue green bacteria) and the roots of giant Boabs (Australian Baobabs). I couldn’t make up a better fantasy cave if I tried!

On the 6th of June we heard Ernesto Sandoval of UC Davis speak on South African Bulbs (and other geophytes – he ended with a tuberous rooted Oxalis). He showed too many pictures of cultivated specimens and not enough habitat. He also used a lot of scientific names which I’m sure were not familiar to a succulent group. It was, however, a fantastic talk from my standpoint.

On the 11th we heard Jack Reynolds talk on the Chinese version of bonsai at the Beijing Botanic Garden. He did an excellent job of explaining the art form for those of us who are not that familiar with it. The repetition in the pictures, however, could have been eliminated by a little more selection.

On the 15th James et al. arrived at 1 a.m. Emily and her mother and brother went to the graduation of another brother at UCSB. James and the grandkids and the dog Frank (of Emily’s mother) stayed with us. I warned of a huge broken branch hanging like a sword of Damocles from the pecan tree in back. John went out and pulled it down and we spent the morning cutting it up.

After lunch Anne and Lora took me to the KC Nut Festival to join the decorated hat contest. They had knitted acorn caps and I put home-grown pecans in the hat band of my Mad Hatter’s hat to become the nutty hatter. Only four other contestants showed up and the judge never did appear. While waiting, Anne started singing “I’m a Little Acorn” and Lora and I joined in. After half an hour of waiting we all got T-shirts and were declared winners.

The Festival has been declared a great success although only the Almond and Pistachio growers put on a real showing. The walnuts were not conspicuous. I’ve heard that next year they will have a different nut instead –perhaps pecans? It’s a real shame about the walnuts. When I was growing up in Stockton we had an annual gathering of the nuts at my grandfather’s house. He had walnut trees and all the relatives came to help in the harvest. Afterwards we had Chinese dinner – the only fast food available. In Bakersfield my mother has two pecan trees and the harvesting is left to me.

Next day we gathered at Lora’s house for a Father’s Day feast - all 18 of us. John not only prepared the meat on his smoker, he presented me with a small greenhouse for our backyard (to go with the larger one already there). That evening Polly’s sister Ginny and husband Bob stopped by on the way from Fresno to Joshua Tree.

Bruce and Tin Woodmen

Ernesto selling Plants

BCSS Meeting

Hats at Nut Festival

Fathers' Day Dinner

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