Black walnut trees are one of the first to lose their leaves. I can attest to this because it's only September, and my porch needs serious sweeping. But you really know it's fall when, with regularity, you hear the thud of walnuts falling off the trees.
Few humans seem to be using these flavorful nuts, but it's still a race to collect them, since squirrels know their value: there are already nuts "hidden" in every flower pot and nook.
It's dangerous to collect black walnuts. When they're plentiful on the ground, they're also still falling. These babies dent cars, and don't feel great when they bonk you on the head.
The truly fun part is still to come, when hands and clothes are forever stained black while peeling the fruit away from the nuts so they can dry.
Once dry, the nuts store well in their shell. And then you try to crack them. Put away your nutcracker shaped like a squirrel! You need a vice grip or a specially designed nutcracker to get into these super hard kernels.
A lot of work, to be sure. The exquisite black walnut flavor promises to be worth every minute!