At Black Creek today -- needed a hard hat to walk one stretch of the trail which shall henceforth be known as Black Walnut alley. The wind would blow, and I'd hear thuds all around me as walnuts hit the dirt. I think I'll go back with a backpack tomorrow and see how many I can pick up. The husks stain everything, but they have this really neat resiny smell. I never much cared for the nuts themselves -- they always tasted kind of "off" to me -- but there's so many there for the taking, I'll have to give them another shot. I was hoping to get some hickory nuts, but no such luck. There's only two shagbark hickories that I've seen along the trail, and the squirrels have been keeping them cleaned out. There's plenty of pignut hickory, but from what I understand, they're not really good eats.
I picked up a black walnut husk that was the biggest one I've ever seen -- they're usually bigger than an apricot but smaller than a peach. This one is baseball-sized. You could do some serious damage with it.
There's some black walnut trees at the playground we frequent and C. once asked me what you do with them. My immediate response was "well, they're good for hucking at people." Back in the day that's what we did for fun -- pick up the nearest small object to huck at someone. Black walnuts, pine cones, apples (extra points if they were rotten), crab apples, pokeberries (they'd stain you and your target both), cockleburrs (aim at hair at your peril).... not rocks, we had more sense than that. It was a little more work, since you had to break them off the stalk, but you could huck cattail heads at each other. They were more fun if you broke off the whole stalk and had swordfights with them. Actually, you could probably tell a lot about where someone grew up by what they used for projectiles as a kid. How about it? What did you used to huck at people?
It must be a biologic imperative for kids to throw things and hit a target -- especially a moving one. Now that they've practically outlawed snowball fights what do kids do? (Besides becoming outlaws...)