Mom had a fastidious nature, and often pursued activities that required attention to detail. And more important, it would be the small pieces of endeavor that produced a finished result of significantly greater scale. This could be seen in her collection of the tiniest of “emerald” shells on the shoreline of Captiva. A shell picker would be lucky to net 2 or 3 of those green shells in a morning. Mom? She accumulated a quart jar-full.
Or, her extensive needlepoint. Lengthy blocks of time needed to create the elaborate seat covers for our dining room chairs. And that huge cross-stitched table cloth? Amazing.
This meticulous nature was not restricted to the world of arts and crafts. Consider Indian Nuts (or, as I later learned: pignoli nuts… pine nuts). I loved those nuts, although it required some effort to separate the shell from the nut inside. It typically took a careful crack of the nut between your teeth… and poor placement of the nut between your teeth, or an overly aggressive chomp, would crush the resident nut into a mess of crumb sized pieces.
As you can see this was a labor intensive exercise, when there are far easier nuts to eat, and with a greater yield of nuts for time invested. Why do it? Well, Indian nuts were pretty tasty. But maybe it was because of the added effort that made the revealed nut that much more of a reward? Regardless.
Mom loved these nuts. But her approach to eating them stretched credulity. Rather than open a nut, eat a nut (the way I did), Mom would relentlessly open nut after nut, discarding the shells, and then she accumulated the small nuts into a cup for later consumption (all at once). I tried this technique a couple of times, and I think I could get up to a half-dozen before popping them all into my mouth. Mom? She just kept opening & adding to her ready-to-eat stash. The nut level in the cup kept reaching every higher. Truth be told, I don’t ever recall seeing her eat the nuts she so judiciously separated from their shells. Well… she did eat the nuts (or maybe threw them away?), because on the next “Indian Nut Session”, that cup would have been at zero nuts. And it would be time to renew her patient assault on the Indian nut inventory.
Today, pine nuts are readily available in the market… already shelled. And somehow, I think Mom would find that to be a crushing disappointment.