Conkers Bonkers


Yes I know there’s hardly any time before Christmas – no need to panic – but for me autumn can never last long enough. As if to herald the end of conker season, their cream crushed innards were rendered foamy white by the heavy rain. Leaving a white stream flowing down the road toward the drains, while the golden leaves collected in slowly rotting piles.

It seemed only a few weeks ago that the giant leaves of the Horse Chestnut trees opposite Chez Pagan had turned prematurely brown and the conkers pelted down, their green deceptively spiky pods splitting open to reveal natures gems within. For me there is nothing quite like the very first conker of autumn. That glorious colour luxuriously glossy and warm, and the smoothness with which it effortlessly turns in your hand. Forget gold this is nature’s alchemy and I can’t resist them.

Every morning The Husband and I walk the Pagan Pup around the block, a well-trodden route that just happens to be lined with Horse Chestnut trees. On windy mornings you can see them falling fresh from the tree, why are the best ones always in the middle of the road? Yet on closer inspection there are plenty of corking conkers to be gleaned in the gutter- oh yes I’m not proud.

The conker season is short though, at first The Husband doesn’t notice me dawdling along behind him, stooping every few yards to pick up another one or two- oh no hang on three maybe four. I lovingly secrete them in my pocket and once home place them in various bowls all over the house.

But nature is fickle and soon, much like ones own youth, the beauty of the collected conkers begins to fade, within a day their sheen is lost, their glorious colour dulled and they lie in their bowls in a wrinkly pile. But I am fickle too so out they go and I begin to collect more. By now the Husband has started noticing my growing obsession.
“Sandra will you stop picking them up your are bonkers. A strange old woman with a thing about conkers” He kicked the perfect specimen into the road, (I still managed to grab it though).

I was clearly no more bonkers about conkers than I was last year or indeed the year before that…
With nature’s beautiful bounty drying up I resigned myself to clearing the remaining leaves on the drive and to be charitable with the last of the conkers. Many a young person had passed by searching for the perfect specimen. So as I swept I lined up the last conkers of autumn on the wall, albeit slightly damaged ones as strangely the pick of the crop had disappeared!

But then if they didn’t have the dedication to be up at six in the morning to get the very best of the newly fallen gems then quite frankly they deserve nothing more, did that come out loud?

Anyway all is now calm in conker bonkers land. Another season has passed and the decorative bowls in Chez Pagan have been put away until they are required to display the Christmas frippery. The Horse Chestnut leaves have been swept and bagged up for collection and all is well with the world until next year.

I can rest now, although…..wait a moment …..was that the sound of a falling conker I heard ?

By Sandra Pagan