The unshelled pecans, dumped out of my bucket, scattered across the snow-covered compost pile. Also known as the “stuff critters gobble up before it has a chance to decompose” pile. Stale or not, pecans in January would probably be a treat for the mice and voles lucky enough to discover them during the night.
For someone whose mind is warped just slightly in the right direction, it would be easy to imagine the conversations they might have.
“Oh, my gosh! These could be the treasure nuts!”
“You mean the ones in the stories? The ones that ever-so-many-times-great grandma supposedly discovered inside the house all those years ago?”
“Nah. Can’t be. Nobody believes that old legend, anyway.”
“But they taste so good! And they’re huge. They’re just like the description in the rhyme.”
“Nuts galore inside the house; round and sweet and big as a mouse. Quick and quiet, stash them away; treasure for eating another day.”
“But that rhyme is just made up. And even if it might be true, it’s ancient. No way these could be the same nuts. The two-legged giants in the house would have found them ages and ages ago.”
“Well, they didn’t. Besides, who cares? Nuts in the winter are nuts in the winter. Let’s get them back home before that nasty big raccoon gets them.”
At this point, someone with too much imagination might be feeling a little bit embarrassed. If that someone knew the complete story of the treasure nuts.
There’s no reason for embarrassment, really. It’s only been mumble-mumble years (Technically—not that anyone is counting—it might be a double-digit number greater than the ages of half my grandkids but less than the ages of their parents.) since said person bought her new pair of cross-country ski boots. This was just before we had several dry winters in a row with hardly enough snow for cross-country skiing. By the time there was snow again, cross-country skiing had lost its appeal. Since then the brand-new boots have sat forgotten in a corner of the closet, in their brand-new box, unopened—at least by human hands.
But eventually, even someone who doesn’t pay much attention to the finer details of housekeeping has to clean out her closet. She might decide those unworn ski boots need to go. And inside the box, she just might find ever-so-many-times-great grandma mouse’s long-ago stash.
Then, after she got over being embarrassed and dumped out the pecans for ever-so-many-times-great grandma’s descendants, she might start to feel guilty. Because she might remember the end of the legend.
“These are so good. Should we sneak inside and look for more?”
“Are you crazy? Remember how the stories end. Ever-so-many-times-great grandma went inside one last time, and something bad happened. She was never seen again.”