Some ancestor had a thing for trees that drop crap on the ground. At one corner is a black cherry about 100 feet tall, pruned and ravaged by too many hurricanes but still hanging in there enough to drop a crop of inedible black gooey cherry-like things on the ground every fall. In the other corner is a chestnut tree — pretty in the spring when it blossoms into big white splendor that reminds me of Paris — but evil in the fall when it drops spiked nut casings on the sidewalk where I walk barefoot with my scull on the way to the water for a morning row.
In the back corner is a honey locust — a tree that by all rights should be dead given its gaunt and splintered appearance, but which throws off a prodigious number of seed pods that for lack of a more delicate simile look like big brown curly tree turds.
These things have been a fact of life around the old homestead my entire life — laying on the ground, feeding an occasional squirrel, rolling like maracas across the yard during a strong blow, but useless somehow, stiff, leatherlike, foot-long curlicues of tree feces with no discernible function other than to insure the spawning of more honey locusts.
I can think of no more unattractive tree for a family back yard than a honey locust. My friend Dan has one in his yard down the street and has hung a tire swing from it. Nice except for the satanic spikes that bristle from the trunk, waiting for some nine-year old kid to swing in and impale himself like a gore scene from Omen 666.
The turds are tenacious, and hang onto the branches long past the usual leaf-fall in October and November. They hang there still, rattling in the winter winds, cascading down at the rate of one a second during wet snow storms, littering the landscape as if a pack of neighborhood dogs convened and decided to use my lawn for a mass defecation ritual.
Yesterday I drafted (against his will, but bribed with a cheeseburger club sandwich) Junior into helping me rake up yet another cubic ton of tree poop. Of course it snowed last night and another bumper crop has fallen, but it was semi-nice to do yardwork in January and find an excuse to escape the stifling indoors.