The Nut Zone is not a place that relates in any way to the current presidential campaign. No, it’s found in our backyard during the autumn months.
An enormous black walnut tree hovers over our backyard. During the summer, it provides welcome shade. When fall comes, however, the tree drops tangerine-sized nuts, ready to bean any unsuspecting visitor. You’re sitting, casually trying to enjoy the last few rays of sunshine before the cold fronts move in — then suddenly the wind ruffles the tree branches, and the bombardment begins. Nuts drop to the ground, clanging off lawn furniture and bouncing off flagstones, startling the unwary, and you realize that but for good fortune they might dent your noggin and leave you dazed and spreadeagled on the cooling ground.
Well, maybe it is a bit like the presidential campaign, now that you mention it.
For the most part, we live our lives in little spheres of sameness — where we live, where we work, where we go to school, where we go out to eat. Occasionally, though, we have to move outside of those spheres, and when we do, it helps to have the nutdar in good working order.
This afternoon I needed to go to the Kroger pharmacy near our house. When I got there, the prescription wasn’t ready, but the pharmacist told me it would only be a few minutes. There was a little waiting area with three chairs next to each other in a row, two of which were already occupied by a young guy with close-cropped hair and an old guy wearing a leather motorcycle jacket who just sat down. My choices were to sit between them, or stand. When I considered the options my nutdar kicked in and told me to stay clear, so I moved a distance away and checked my email without making any eye contact with my fellow pharmacy customers.
Sure enough, a few moments later the young guy and the old guy started an unnervingly loud conversation about drugs and their health problems. The young guy spoke in rapid-fire cadence and seemed wired to the hilt, like a character in a Hunter S. Thompson book. In just a few minutes his booming voice covered why he didn’t trust generic drugs, his fear that he’s had multiple heart attacks, a rumor he heard that the DEA had shut down a local pharmacy for violations of federal drug laws, and some kind of mechanical problem he was having with a motorcycle that he had bought on Craig’s List in a “rip-off” deal. The old guy, not to be outdone, chipped in with ringing declarations about his various ailments, suggestions on drug that the young guy could take to deal with those apparent heart attacks, and a diagnosis of the motorcycle issues. I tried not to listen, but it was impossible to avoid.
I don’t know if these guys were dangerous or harmless, but it was the end of the day and I didn’t want to find out. I’m glad my subconscious kept me away from them. It’s nice to know that my nutdar is still in prime working condition.
Fallen nuts accumulate on the leisure path along Route 62. As Penny and I take our walk it is not unusual to hear the nuts clatter against the pavement as they drop to the ground. You just hope that your head doesn’t become a target.