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Horse Chestnuts and the magic of Autumn

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.

Comments: 12

  • October 11, 2012
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    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.

  • October 11, 2012
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    Like those deer. Sweet!

  • October 11, 2012
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    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.

  • October 12, 2012
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    Now all I need are some chestnuts. Maybe I could paint some acorns?

  • October 12, 2012
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    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…:-)

  • October 12, 2012
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    Hickory nuts and black walnuts were plentiful on the farm…pecans were the prize.

  • October 13, 2012
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    The colors and earthy tones are what I truly enjoy… Fall is a gorgeous season. 😉

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