They remind me of the Buckeyes that are so prevalent where I grew up in the midwestern U.S., so I was really excited when I came across them in Sweden.
The “Buckeyes” themselves are really quite beautiful, multiple shades of rich brown colours, smooth to the touch and a pleasure to handle. I could never resist pocketing a few of them, so it became something of a ritual each fall that Dr. Darling tended to tease me about. Consequently, collecting them was strictly a solo project the first few years I lived here.
But then our god-daughter got old enough to get in on the action, and together with her and the now-willing-to-play-along Swede, I went from picking up just a handful to harvesting enough to fill the large, decorative blue ceramic bowl that we have no idea what to do with otherwise.
Restocked each autumn, the bowl sits on one of our coffee tables year-round, providing a little glimpse of The Heartland for me and a semi-educational source of entertainment for our god-daughter, who has gone from dumping them (very noisily) all over the wooden floor of our living room to counting them in both English and Swedish.
This year, because of the unusually long Indian Summer, the spikey green Horse Chestnut tree pods dropped a bit later than normal and the nuts inside them were as big as I’ve ever seen. And to our mutual delight (the Swede has now become a complete convert to the ritual), a high percentage of the pods hit the ground without opening. This means the Buckeye inside wasn’t exposed to the elements or tramped on by passersby before we got to them. These “virgin” Buckeyes are the most beautiful and our favorites to collect.
Check out the Vine video below to see how it’s done: