Horse Chestnuts and the magic of Autumn

October 11, 2012

Horse chestnuts, the bitter chestnuts, the pagan magic tonic chestnut. The poisonous one, the narcotic one.
Why can’t I keep away from them? Bet you can’t either.

Isn’t it satisfying to find these big, fat fruits and hold them in your hand? Don’t you want to gather them up and take them home just to own their rich, brunette beauty for as long as possible?

It’s true love, I’m afraid, and, as we all know, true love lasts forever.


Prized by small school boys as weapons in the game of conkers, kept on windowsills to keep away spiders (you reading this Jeannine), stored with the linen to prevent moths, taken as a sleeping tonic, (often with disastrous results) and gaily exploded in bonfires.

As Pertuhcio said,

And do you tell me of a woman’s tongue
That gives not half so great a blow to hear
As will a Chestnut in farmer’s fire?
— Taming of the Shrew, act i, sc. 2 (208).


For me though, the magic is rooted in my childhood. In my chestnut hair, in my grandfather’s willingness to part with his matches…yet again…for the sake of huge herds of chestnut deer, who stand on my windowsill every Autumn, silent and proud on their matchstick legs.

Big Movement...Photo Friday and the WordPress Photo Challenge
Of August 20-21, 1968. Memories come

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12 Comments

  • Reply boltoncarley October 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    didn’t know all those uses! my funny use was that i liked to put them in the mud pies i made when i was a kid! lol.

    • Reply Veronica October 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      No way Bolton, those must have been the best mud pies. Chloe put them into fairy soup I bet…everything else ended up in fairy soup. 🙂

  • Reply Sabra Bowers October 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Like those deer. Sweet!

    • Reply Veronica October 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Thank you Sabra. I used to be able to stick those matches right thru the chestnut skin. Now I use a nail first. Chestnuts used to be thinner skinned back then. 🙂

  • Reply michellepond October 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I love the chestnut deer and want to hear more about games of conkers. Beautiful photos and text. I have fond memories of my mother roasting chestnuts for us.

    • Reply Veronica October 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Michelle, British boys get the biggest, fattest horse chestnuts and drill a hole right thru and then try to make them as hard as rocks. Some bake them, some soak them in salted water…there’s all sorts of secret recipes. When they are at their hardest, a string is tied thru the hole and the game is played by swinging and bashing your conker onto your friend’s conker as hard as possible. The unshattered conker wins! These are serious conker wars. Your mom roasted edible chestnuts? Those are delish, aren’t they? We get them from street vendors roasting them right there in the city streets. I love them. 🙂

  • Reply Jeannine Bergers Everett October 12, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Now all I need are some chestnuts. Maybe I could paint some acorns?

    • Reply Veronica October 12, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Might work Jeannine! 🙂

  • Reply Sarav October 12, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Yes! your photos do make me want to keep their big glossy brunette beauty in my hand forever–(ignoring those really thorny nasty pod covers, of course) Lovely. Enjoyed the chestnut deer too–and conkers? holy cow–my mom used to say “did you conk your noggin?” She is the queen of funny sayings. But she doesn’t know anything about that game…:-)

  • Reply Lara Britt October 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Hickory nuts and black walnuts were plentiful on the farm…pecans were the prize.

    • Reply Veronica October 13, 2012 at 5:57 am

      Lori, I’d completely trade chestnuts for macadamia and kukui nuts. Love them both to pieces! Actually, I have a strand of black kukui nuts hanging on the back of my bedroom door. Love their black richness.

  • Reply eof737 October 13, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    The colors and earthy tones are what I truly enjoy… Fall is a gorgeous season. 😉

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