Fresh ideas: Fall is a nutty time

I considered writing about the upcoming election but fellow columnists Guy Farmer and Bob Thomas covered that territory pretty thoroughly in the Oct. 20 edition of the Nevada Appeal.

Guy Farmer aptly pointed out that he was uncomfortable with Bob Guimont accepting a sizable campaign contribution from a person with criminal charges pending against him and Bob Thomas endorsed the school bond, which was a small miracle.

I thought about summarizing and discussing the statewide ballot questions but there is no way to approach the rule against perpetuities that will leave the reading audience other that comatose, so I decided to write about something really important -- pine nuts.

Pine nuts. There is nothing like the taste of fresh roasted pine nuts. I went to my local grocery last Monday and there they were in net bags weighing about 2 pounds each. They were priced at $4.85 a pound and as I put the bag in my basket, I thought, I bet some people will think that these are over priced but those are people who have never roamed the Pine Nut Range east of Carson City in search of these delicacies only to harvest a handful after a day of branch shaking. I, for one, know a bargain when I see it.

I brought them home and immediately sat down and ate a few dozen, cracking the shell with my teeth like a squirrel and savoring the soft, moist, piney center of each nut while contemplating the role these little nuts played in the Native American diet.

The Indians knew a good thing when they tasted it. Of course, the fear of starvation during a long, barren winter may have spurred their appetites, as well. I can't help but think that in spite of their own political issues that they appreciated the simple pleasures of fall, the bounty of the earth and harvest.

As politics swirls about us, it is easy to get swept up and forget what is really important, our daily appreciation of simple pleasures, fresh roasted pine nuts, a gorgeous autumn and football.

The crisp mornings have been followed by the soft, warm days. I have been enjoying long hikes and bike rides in the Sierras. What a treat to be walking along, breathing in the musky scent of the fallen leaves, admiring the changing color; the paprika sprinkled Aspen groves, oak trees dipped in cinnamon, and saffron covered rabbit brush, all accented by dark green pine trees, Nevada blue skies all the while munching on fresh roasted pine nuts.

Fall also means football, my favorite spectator sport. The San Francisco 49ers are playing reasonably well and have a good shot at winning their division. The UNR Wolf Pack is making an exciting comeback after some very difficult years. The Carson High Senators are having a good season and my 7-year old nephew, Taylor, is playing quarterback for the Pop Warner league and his team is 1-1. His star running back is a girl -- how things have changed since I was 7.

As a bonus, the San Francisco Giants made it to the World Series for the first time since 1989 and there was no earthquake.

What do pine nuts have to do with football? Pine nuts make the perfect football snack. They are good for you, packed with vitamins and minerals and good cholesterol lowering vegetable fat so there is no guilt. They keep your hands and mouth busy cracking the shells and picking out the sweet center which prevents nail biting, beer can smashing, and various expletives when your team is losing. They taste wonderful but don't fill you up so you can still enjoy a Polish dog at the tailgate party.

As my Aunt Margie said, the night before she died, "Every day is a good day." So on Election Day, remember to vote, and every day remember to appreciate the little pleasures of life.

Linda E. Johnson is a wife, mother, attorney, and a 28-year resident of Carson City, who loves fresh roasted pine nuts and living in the Sierra.


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