Last week, I rode my bike to the pool and almost biffed on the way. The culprit? Not my own clumsiness mind you, but loads and piles of fallen horse chestnuts, or Kastanien in German.
Sharp and spiky, the shells on these chestnuts look like something out of a Super Mario Brothers underworld, death in one swipe. Fortunately, that’s not really the case especially since they’re ridiculously interesting to little ones. However, this type of chestnut is also apparently poisonous. I guess the kids here just know not to try and eat such spiny weird things.
Though the children don’t eat them, they certainly do collect them. Last fall, I saw girls and boys everywhere I went, gathering these brown round thingies. I asked a friend what on earth kids wanted with them. She told me the chestnuts are used for learning (counting, simple math, etc) as well as crafts.
Even T-Rex has come home from school with chestnuts in hand. Last week, he showed me the playground stash. I was impressed at the variety from such a small kindergarten yard. It must be some essential German characteristic, an autumn horse chestnut honing sense.
I’ve never seen these in the US, but if you happen to find yourself on the receiving end of a shedding horse chestnut tree, check out this website for crafts. Just make sure they’re all gone before you blast “The Christmas Song” from the stereo. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…