'Me and My Nuts'

10 June, 2018rodster385Comments (0)

I know it's been a while since I've written anything. I've been busy trying to grow some nuts. Hey, you went there all on your own and shame on you. Nuts...pecans. They grow on trees. I have forty trees, I think. It depends on how many beers I've had before I try counting them, but thirty-five to forty trees. (FYI - I've downed a total of two beers the past two years.) Pecan trees are like children and horses. They demand lots of attention.
A severe drought settled upon west Texas a few years ago. Not one single drop of rain for three years. Millions of trees died, as a result, some of mine included. I had one hundred and twenty trees before the drought, so you might say I've down-sized since those days. With a chainsaw in hand, I sat out this spring to whip the remaining trees back into shape. They eagerly reciprocated by whipping me back into shape. I've not worked this hard in years and find myself really enjoying my return to nature after my retirement from a mundane job that literally held me prisoner for twenty-three years. Birds of all varieties, cottontail rabbits, and an occasional skunk entertain me beneath a scalding summer sun as I tote a chainsaw from tree to tree in an attempt to accomplish my mission.
It was the original plan, after all. For those twenty-some-odd years, I grinded away at a dead end job dreaming of a day to come where I'd tend to my trees. The loss of two-thirds of my orchard knocked the wind from my sails, but really...forty trees are enough for an old man like me. right? Beat up, battered, bruised, and bleeding I trudge back to the house as the sun sets every evening, easing my aching body into a chair on the patio. And I sit there as the sun drops below the horizon of a west Texas landscape, staring at my trees and nodding my head with approval.
I recall meeting the man who sold me this place over two decades ago. The two of us stood on the porch of what would become my home, staring at nothing more than a vast patch of weeds.
He commented as he waved his hand, "There's a hundred and twenty pecan trees out there hiding in those weeds."
I thought to myself, "Well, I do like pecan pie."
I spent countless hours reading every article I could find about raising pecan trees. I babied those trees, catering to their every need. Pecans began to fall...lots of pecans. And I began selling them...all over the world. When I sold all of my pecans, I bought more from anyone in west Texas who had a tree or two. People from Amarillo to Odessa began bringing their pecans to me. And still, I would sell out every year. And then the drought came.
Discouraged, I let it go, the orchard and the pecans. The water was scarce and with temperatures soaring as high as 114 degrees, there was little hope of saving my trees. Bored, I turned my attention to writing, penning a few novels and spinning stories on the internet. On a whim, I wrote a book about growing pecan trees. After all, it seemed a shame to let all that knowledge go to waste. The book began to sell well on Amazon and I garnered a respectable following. I made how-to videos and posted them on a Facebook page and Youtube. Folks began to message me about their pecan trees, yes even call me from all over the United States with questions about their trees. As it all began to grow almost out of control, I realized how much I really loved those poor, struggling trees that clung to life in hopes I'd come back to save them. One spring day I donned my super-hero shirt and tied a red cape around my neck and set out to rescue those trees. And...they are making a comeback faster than Fleetwood Mac!
I sat in the shade of my biggest pecan tree this morning with a cup of coffee, peering into the branches at all those tiny pecans. A smile crossed my face as I pondered,
"What in the world am I going to do with all those nuts when they fall."
I took a sip of coffee and said out loud to no one in particular, "Well, I do like pecan pie."
A cool southern breeze blew across my face as I realized just how much I love a simple way of life where nothing much matters except me and my nuts.

*Rodney Strange is the author of the best selling book, 'Pecan Tree Care,' available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle edition.


'Summer Shorts'

13 May, 2018rodster385Comments (0)


There's a lot of things I like about summer. Like summer shorts. No, I don't necessarily like to wear them. I have a few pairs but I feel like a duck out of water running around in a pair of shorts. I don't want the neighbors to see me that way. I do have a reputation to maintain and I've been told it's not cool to wear my boots and hat with shorts, so I just stick to my wranglers. I like summer shorts on women...and to avoid any #MeToo feedback, I'll just leave it at that. I'm a normal guy, old but normal, and I like girls in shorts. That's not the kind of summer shorts I'm referring to, anyway.
Summer is here. We've already had two one hundred degree days here in west Texas. I'm an outdoor sort of guy and it has to reach a hundred to drive me back inside the house. I've shirked my indoor duties lately. If I can't cook it on the grill this time of year, we don't eat. I drink my coffee outside in the morning and sweet tea in the shade in afternoon. I try not to miss a single sunset and usually wait until the stars are twinkling in the vast Texas sky before finally calling it a day.
My days are full and honestly, I could use a few more hours in my days. There are around forty pecan trees in my front yard that need my attention. I'd wager my yard is bigger than yours by a few acres. I toil and sweat in bliss as I relish this new life that retirement has introduced me to. I admire my farmer's tan and the searing sunburn on the back of my neck reminds me every night how blessed I am. Calloused hands, scrapes and scratches, and even the sting of a scorpion hiding beneath a coiled water hose are all trophies of a man who has found peace and happiness.
I enjoy writing stories and sharing them, but not nearly as much as the life I treasure away from this laptop, beyond the confining walls of this man cave. So, with these weekly stories consuming time that I honestly don't have to spare, I've decided that during these blissful summer months, I will be delivering what I call 'Summer Shorts.' I don't have time to write lengthy blogs and likely, you don't have time to read them. Therefore, I shall keep in touch with some passing thoughts now and then.
Let's all enjoy the best summer has to offer...cookouts and sunsets, fishing trips and sleeping beneath the stars, swimming holes and watermelon...and good times. And summer shorts!