Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Great Nut Hunt

What delicious cob nuts, thank you so much. Were they from Kent?

You'll laugh . . . having lost my nut-cracker, and being quite determined to enjoy your kind gift, I've had to resort to a hammer! If I need to use a hammer, it's all the more impressive that rodents can crack open nuts simply by using their teeth.

Have you heard about The Great Nut Hunt organised by the PTES? It's a nationwide search for the endangered dormouse. People are being encouraged to scour the countryside in search of cob nuts bearing the distinctive drilled hole made by the tooth of the dormouse.
We can't lose the dormouse. Lewis Carroll, for one, would never forgive us.

Thinking of nuts and mice . . . can you cope with a nutty memory?

When I was small, and lived in Kent, we had a grove of hazel trees in the garden. You could see them clearly from the bedroom window. Every year, in early autumn, we were visited by a marauding army. They weren't interested in us, they weren't interested in the garden, all they had eyes for were the hazel trees and the ripening cob nuts.
Have you guessed what they were? That's right . . . rats!

They were beautifully well-regulated rats, trooping across the garden in orderly formation straight for the hazel trees. Once there, they shinned swiftly up into the branches where each rat would delicately pick off a single nut. Then, bearing his trophy above his nose, the rat would descend and join the single-file convoy returning to their nest.
Where the nest was, we didn't know. However, one thing was beyond doubt . . . it was a nest stuffed full of our cob nuts!

The rats' forays usually took place in early morning and early evening. I would stand at my bedroom window, watching in fascination . . . hoping that they would leave some for me. I, too, enjoyed the nuts!

It must be admitted that, during their period of occupation, the rat army were somewhat possessive about our garden. They regularly sharpened their claws on the gate-posts . . . sat nonchalantly washing their faces on the pathway . . . and often refused to give way to the postman.

But it was all over very quickly. With the last of the nuts came the last of the rats. Where did they spend the rest of the year? I've no idea. But I can personally testify to the fact that the Kentish rats of my youth were very well fed.

PTES need have no worries . . . rats, I feel, are unlikely to become an endangered species!