Walking together to school, Eliza found a late season conker on the pavement amongst leaves and horse chestnut shells. I asked if the kids had ever played conkers and, when I began to explain it, found escalating interest. That evening, I punched holes in four conkers with a hammer and drill bit. In the garden, after a quick demonstration, we began a mini-competition. Gabe and Robin’s match progressed quickly with Robin’s conker cracking, exposing the off-white kernel and later ricocheting into his face.

The matches continued the next morning. Eliza stood poised to receive my conker swing, with eyes closed and face pinched. In both matches, each successful hit was followed by close examination of the conker and commentary on bruising, cracking and denting – much of it imagined and all enjoyed.



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