How to Crack a Nut

By Anna Mitchael

I’m going to mosey

Out on a limb here and guess that, in your day, you’ve come across at least a few nuts that needed to be cracked. Pecans. Almonds. Peanuts. Walnuts. The pistachios arranged in their very own bins at the end of the grocery store aisle as though they are a slammin’ deal. I always have the vague feeling that if I put all of my pistachio money into a coffee can, in 15 years I could probably have enough to send a kid to college.

If you don’t hear from me next month, you’ll know the pistachio growers got me.

Of course we can’t have a discussion about cracking nuts without mentioning the metaphorical nuts in our lives — the people who can be tough to crack. Perhaps they are top of mind because doesn’t it feel like just yesterday we were standing around with them, wearing our very prettiest sweaters, sipping eggnog and wondering if Armageddon would be more or less painful than that conversation.

Tough nuts of the human variety are unfortunately not my area of expertise. I have been known to talk to a wall instead of trying to crack the shell of a tough person.

And really I only get away with that sort of behavior because I live in the country, so people expect a certain amount of social awkwardness on my part.

But cracking food nuts is something I know about. And it’s why I would like to invite you over to my house. Sometime soon, preferably. I won’t be serving bowls of pistachios — mostly because I don’t know you that well so I am not sure you are worth the investment — but I will be offering up a jumbo-size, extra-large bucket of pecans for your enjoyment. The only catch is you’re going to have to crack them.

We are lucky enough to have some of our own pecan trees. They aren’t in the backyard, but if we take a short walk when you come over, you will see them. Some years these pecan trees give us a lot of pecans. Other years we have gotten barely enough for a pie. This year we spent a whole day bundled up in sweaters, shaking trees and picking pecans, and we came out with two big buckets. One bucket we gave away to friends, and the other we kept for ourselves on the back porch.

My plan has been to march out there and take control of those pecans. The supplies are ready and waiting. I’ve gathered our two simple, silver nutcrackers. There’s an empty bucket where the shells can go. I’ve even chosen a perfectly sized small bowl that will make every triumphant piece of pecan meat look just a little larger than it really is. But so far I’ve done a lot of talking and planning and very little — okay, zero — cracking.

This is where you come in.

Because now is that once-a-year moment when all of us are facing buckets of our own nuts. If these resolutions and projects were easy to accomplish, then wouldn’t we have gone ahead and done them last year?

I think the only way to get the job done is to force myself into a chair, then tackle it one step at a time. And perhaps I’m too far out on my limb now, but I was thinking maybe, just maybe, there’s a bucket in your life you’re working through as well.

Nothing makes the work of a new year easier, but sometimes it does manage to feel less like a chore with some help from friends.