Chestnuts

In my last blog, Why Learning the Ethical Culture Way Sticks, I wrote about loving to learn at the Feldston Lower School in Riverdale, New York. I also liked the chestnuts that dropped to the ground near school in the fall.

When the school day was over at Fieldston, I would sometimes go to my friend Connie’s house to play. Her house was a fifteen-minute walk from the school along Fieldston Road, a wide avenue boasting large (100 feet high) luscious green canopied chestnut trees. The game we played on the way to her house was, Who Could Find the Most Beautiful Chestnut? The spiky green burs lay on the ground. We each chose ones that looked good…had already split open…scooped them up and peeled back the yellow/brown burs to reveal the shiny brown hulls, flat on one side with a tan mark at the bottom. The best ones were little objets d’art, multicolored browns like rich grained wood, but with a natural shiny veneer. The best ones we used for barter.

“I’ll give you this prince of a chestnut, for your two maidens. Yours are just not that beautiful,” Connie said.

“You know they never stay that way. Your prince will only be a prince for today” I said.

“Who cares? Today is today,” said Connie.

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll take your prince; he is a beauty, but I don’t understand the logic of your swap.”

When our date was over and I went home, I took my prince and put him on my dresser.

The next morning, I studied my chestnut. No longer quite so shiny, nor so rich in brown hues, he had only been prince for a day. As I got ready for school, I wondered if that had been enough.