Conkers

I love picking up conkers. Nice fresh shiny conkers. This time of year, there is normally a conker, or two, in my coat pocket. Sometimes, my pockets are positively bulging with conkers. I can’t resist them when they’re fresh and newly hatched. If I’m not picking them up, I’m likely to be kicking one along the pavement in front of me.

As autumn rolls on, a cairn of drying out conkers will be growing next to the coat hooks in the porch. I’ll be asked if they are there to keep the spiders away; apparently, that’s a thing. If they were, it’s not working. The house is full of spiders at the moment. Apparently, they come indoors to look for a mate. Maybe we should set up a web based dating agency?

Back at the conkers. I read this week that horse chestnut trees are at risk of extinction due to pests and disease. Young trees aren’t surviving more than a few yearsI. Which is a worry.

When I was a child there was only a couple of horse chestnut trees near to my school. There was always a scrum and a fight to collect the conkers. Around our town, wide Victorian avenues are lined with trees. They are beautiful in their autumn colours. And a hazard to the runner. On a windy day, it may be raining conkers; on any autumn day, they will be there underfoot. I’ll pick my way through them, wondering: don’t today’s children feel the need to collect conkers?

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