September 12th, 2007
Gleanings (or why I didn’t go to the gym)

pecan firewood
2007-09-12. An afternoon of gathering pecan for the winter…well winter a year from now.

I didn’t get much firewood out of last week’s tree-trimming project only a pile a intensely ammonia-scented ground up chinaberry which am using on the paths and to cover the bare spots in the woods. Unlike the Christmas tree mulch which makes my yard smell like the Christmas for a month into the new year, chinaberry mulch makes the yard smell like the alley behind a bar. It started rotting almost immediately and the mold spores that fly up when I shovel it–yikes! I find it wise to use a face mask. I hope the face mask helps because I’m pretty sure this is the kind of mold which put me in the hospital with pneumonia 5 years ago.

Well today I was distracted from my set task of painting the front bedroom by the sound of chainsaws in my neighbor’s yard across the street. She is having her pecans trimmed. And I lucked out with a nice pile of pecan for the lugging home. Yes, it was as heavy as it looks. I don’t think I need to go to the gym and lift weights today. But it’s a good thing I do sometimes, or I would never be able to take advantage of the opportunities to glean. I can’t stand any waste. I come from thrifty stock.

Despite the sweat and toil, I do lift my head at times to look at the garden. Last week’s oxblood lilies have faded but as I suspected, they were just a preview of the main attraction. Yesterday’s inch of rain has set off the second wave. I’m going to have to devote at least one day to inventory. And then you friends of Zanthan Gardens, it will be time to glean from my garden.

Rhodophiala bifida
2007-09-12. A second wave of oxblood lilies shooting up as the old ones fade.

As for gleaning, I think I’ve recommended the documentary The Gleaners and I. It’s about both rural and urban gleaning in France where Napoleonic law protects the rights of gleaners and enables them to pick through the orchards and fields after the main harvest. It is a little slow in spots but conceptually fascinating.

by M Sinclair Stevens

4 Responses to post “Gleanings (or why I didn’t go to the gym)”

  1. From Yolanda Elizabet:

    Lugging all that wood about you didn’t need to go to the gym. 😉 Does the pecan wood give off a nice scent when you burn it? I like to burn wood from my fruit trees as it smells so nice.
    BTW good idea that Christmas tree mulch, I’ll try it too when the time is there.

    Pecan isn’t a strongly scented wood, like hickory, mesquite, or cedar. It has a fairly light pleasant, scent. There are not many fruit trees in my neighborhood which is about 70 years old, mostly pecan, live oak, or cedar elm. I know from my friend Robert Brady, that cherry trees burn very hot and clean. As for the Christmas tree mulch, Austin is very lucky to have a Christmas tree recycling program. Customers either bring their trees to Zilker Park or leave them on the curb for the garbage collectors. Then the city grinds up the trees and lets gardeners take what they want for free. Wouldn’t it be great if every community did that! — mss

  2. From kate (Canada):

    I am fascinated with the concept of gleaning. Thanks for the book movie recommendation.

    All summer long, I used my gardening work to forego a trip to the gym. Now that fall has arrived and I’m spending less time outside, that thought has worn a bit thin.

    The pecan wood must be wonderful to burn. I wish we had such a variety of trees here.

  3. From Rob:

    Curses! Pecan for firewood!!! You know for about 60 bucks you can take that down to the local sawmill and have that sawn up into lumber. Judging by the width of the tree looks like about $5,000 worth of potential lumber there.


    The diameter of the largest log on the stack is 12 inches. But the tree-trimmers didn’t fell an entire tree. To keep from dropping huge limbs on the roof and cars and children at the daycare center next door, they cut limbs off the trees in short slices. Hmmm. Does Austin have a local sawmill? I thought I was doing well to save the wood from the landfill. 🙂 — mss

  4. From Steve Mudge:

    As I wrote before, I had our Pecan milled but it cost $240, not $60, when all was said and done. Pecans are notorious for not having much straight wood to mill so MSS may have not had much usable wood anyway…add to that the extreme difficulty of moving the logs and getting them up into a truck for transport–Pecan logs are quite heavy–one of ours weighed 700 pounds–its a lot of work! So I’m not sure that MSS should feel too bad about missing out on the process.

    Anyway the trees weren’t mine for me to make such decisions. These were the pieces that were left on the curb. The tree guys were going to haul them off to the dump until I walked over and said, “Hey! Can have those.” — mss PS. You’re right. Fresh pecan is heavy!