By Laura Marshall

April 5, 2021


In the fall, we rake pecans into piles as most people do with leaves. The tree’s branches extend in every direction over our backyard. Summer thunderstorms shake them loose unripened and encased in a rubbery green skin. They hit the roof with a sharp plock, a Louisiana hail.

But by November they reach their toasted marble, ready to crack if you hit them right in their thick midsections. My older brother can break them with his hands, but I am too small, and resort to stomping on them in my pink Velcro-ed tennis shoes, sending shell pieces scattering across the patio and dusting the nuts with dirt. I wipe off the pecans with my hands and eat them anyway, showing off those that are most symmetrical—a narrow set of lungs or the wings of an insect.

From the raked piles we take fistfuls and drop them into paper bags to bring to my grandmother’s house. We sit with her at a greasy kitchen table and help her shell them, sneaking bites of bigger pieces.

I don’t care for the pie, really, the corn syrup pulling at my teeth. But shelling is a calendar as much as it is culture, making me remember where we are in the world, when we are in the world. Because it is pecan season, it is pecan pie season—which makes it the holiday season, even though we live in a winterless land.


Laura Marshall is a New Orleans native and long-time New Yorker currently based in Los Angeles. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter College, and her work appears or is forthcoming in Entropy, Salon, Reductress, Raleigh Review, Tiferet, Points in Case, and The Chattahoochee Review as a 2020 Lamar York Prize finalist in nonfiction.


Picture by Matthews Jackie courtesy of Pixabay



comments powered by Disqus « Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow