Twelve giant walnut trees stand guard at Whetstone Boys Ranch, their huge arms framing almost any view from the house. In addition to providing shade and shelter, they are beginning to take on the added responsibility of therapy for our boys…or for the time being, boy.
One activity we’ve begun since moving operations from downtown West Plains which has a noticeable lack of trees and an abundance of glass store fronts, is throwing walnuts. (Boys will be boys, after all.) In a few short weeks, we have devised a number of engaging games with the thousands of walnuts which make routine walking a health hazard. There is horse-shoe walnuts, where we try to hit a 50 gallon red feed bucket: 1 pt if you hit it, 2 pts if it bounces out, and 3 points if it lands and stays in the bucket. There is around-the-world walnuts, where you try to hit three perimeter tree trunks in succession. If you miss any one of them on your second “chance,” you go all the way back to the beginning.
And there more walnut games in the works: a version of Frisbee golf played with walnuts, stick-ball played with walnuts, lawn-bowling/shuffle board version to be played by rolling walnuts on the smooth concrete of the wrap-around porch.
Maybe this is a bad idea. I can see at some point having to discipline a boy who throws a walnut at me, or through a window. Maybe gathering walnuts into buckets and transporting them to a shelling station will be better, since it allows opportunity for both work and revenue. But the fact remains that we can’t eliminate every loose impediment from our 280 acres. On the whole, walnut competitions seem like a good example of clean, healthy fun. Better to teach troubled boys how to act responsibly within their surrounding, than to ban them from interaction.
Seen from this perspective, the physical universe God has created is a perpetual playground for mankind. All He expects is that we use a little imagination and follow a few basic rules.
In other words, when life gives you walnuts… aim them at something non-breakable and devise a point system.