As we’re still temporarily living at my mums, I’m rediscovering the oh-so-familiar scenes of my childhood home. Through the back gate, over the hill and across the horses paddock, in front of the shearing shed and my grandparents original home, stand two stately and ever-present figures.
These chestnut trees speak to me of crispy Autumn evenings after school picking the prickly shells apart, collecting the nuts with my sister, swinging from their branches, tracing ‘faces’ in the woody grains of the wide trunks and racing home with buckets and buckets of nuts. We would carefully weigh and bag our precious produce to sell to a local grocer in a nearby town, $9 a kilo rings a faint bell.
The trees themselves are some of the oldest European trees in the area, that I know. When my grandparents bought ‘Ballina Park’ in 1947 the trees were already well established. Estimates have put them at 80-100 years or possibly older. Now our beautiful horse Midnight lies forever under her beloved trees, I visited her today, just as usual to be found under the chestnuts, only now nourishing them and the soil they grow in. The chestnut trees make up a huge part of my childhood on the farm, today I wandered beneath their huge canopy, a new little chestnut growing (and kicking!) inside me. The nuts were still very green, not quite ready to drop yet, give them time and the ground will be covered in spiky cases bursting open with shiny brown nuts. Give our baby time and he or she will be ready too, for chestnut picking and lots of adventures in these familiar hills.