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Walnuts & How I Remember It

The sky grew darker in the afternoon. Then the rain and wind began to wham the black walnuts onto the rooftop. I stayed inside, watching and listening to the roar and racket.

That was over two weeks ago. The hulls have now blackened. Squirrels have an abundance.

I look out and remember my elementary years, when I was happy to discard the walnut hulls, hammer the nuts out of the shell on a sidewalk, and give my mother a bowl full of walnut goodies. She made some kind of dessert I can’t rightly name. I vaguely remember the experience, a bowl and wooden spoon that knew my mother’s touch.

We lost a neighbor this past Thanksgiving season. That sadness hovers over us like that which boiled out of the sky before the walnuts flew.

Walnut memories, watching a PBS documentary called “The Pilgrims,"and the loss of a neighbor—that combination over the Thanksgiving holidays led me to write a poem. I know, I’m lagging weeks behind, according to the calendar! But another part of me realizes that we are all pilgrims in this world when it comes to accepting death as another part of our lives.

I wrote the following poem knowing this is the one place I’d want to share it. I could not not write it. Maybe it’s just for one person or for several. I don’t know. Like the pilgrims of the 1620s, we all have our losses and grieve—even though many of us live in the midst of abundance and enjoy our sweet walk with Jesus.

I am thankful for you, and may God bless each of you with His love and hope during this season.

Pat Durmon

After Watching “The Pilgrims” on PBS

—According to William Bradford’s manuscript

The Mayflower was solitary

as it bobbed like a cork on tossing waves.

The ship drifted across the ocean

with 102 passengers.

Undersupplied and overcrowded,

dramas unfolded—

divergent views, mouthy sailors,

sicknesses, second and third thoughts.

Oh, the despair of leaving

family behind

to look for a new world

where they could worship, unmolested.

The pilgrims, severely tested,

stood by and watched as the death toll rose.

The ship anchored off Plymouth.

Three times, scouts went out.

At last, young and old sloshed

their limbs through water toward land

while taking a beating from sleet.

Soon, the dead outnumbered the living.

Huts were built, meat hunted.

But at nightfall,

grief caught up and hung on.

Without having to speak of it,

pilgrims paid the highest price

for abundance.

—Pat Durmon

P.S. The links below go to the Amazon pages for my poetry books. They make great gifts!

Walnuts on the ground, November 2021.

Poetry Books by Pat Durmon


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