It’s that time of year again. Time for a little expedition. In the sunshine, under the trees, on a glorious warm and sunny afternoon two little girls went hunting for treasure.
Even though it feels like the trees are just starting to turn, and it was August only yesterday, there were enough fallen leaves to carpet the grass and give a reassuring crunch under tiny feet. And hidden in the leaves, peeking out from behind spiky shells that look like bright green miniature hedgehogs, is the bounty we’re looking for.
It was Elma’s first time collecting conkers; she wasn’t really very sure what we were looking for to start with, but as the pile started to build up in her buggy seat she found first one, and then another, and then more and more and more.
I’m not sure that she understands why we want to pick them up and bring them home; they look so very lickeable but for some extraordinary reason Mummy won’t let her eat them, they don’t really do anything, and if you throw them inside the house they get put away in the play kitchen saucepans and someone says “No Thank You!”
But I don’t think she minded too much either. I sat on our picnic quilt in the shade of the neighbouring trees feeding Pip and snuggling him as he watched the leaves dance in the branches above while the girls ran back and forth to the conker tree, racing each other around the far side of the trunk and back to deposit each new discovery in my lap and just check that I was looking after their baby brother properly.
I really didn’t think that they’d found that many, just a neat little pile building up in Elma’s seat, and even when I moved them all into my handbag so that I could strap her in again for the way home it didn’t seem too many. It was only when we got home and realised we could fill the entire play kitchen saucepan set to the brim that we realised we’ve got our best collection yet.
I do have a plan, which is probably just as well, and I think we’ll be starting with Red Ted Art’s Conker Snake (thanks to Claire who pointed it out to me) just as soon as we can persuade H to get busy with a barbeque skewer.
But I also think you don’t really need a reason to collect conkers, they’re reason enough themselves, all silky smooth and that glorious rich shiny brown. They’re so tactile and inviting and pilled up in the play saucepans ready to be stirred, or poured out, or used for some game involving putting a conker on top of each of the building blocks they’re a classic case of nature winning out over every other lovely toy in the house.
And apparently we’re not the only ones.
We couldn’t decide whether this was the work of squirrels, fairies, pixies or just people without either pockets or a bag to take them home in,