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Chestnuts. Was there ever a simple object so full of life? Both as a potential seed for a grand new tree, but also as a perennial plaything for children. Not to mention as a yummy winter delight - roast chestnuts, mmm...

When I was a child, I'd go picking fallen horse chestnuts with my grandfather, down by Køge Å, the river near which my grandparents lived. We'd go back to their apartment and make chestnut animals, using bits of matches to join the chestnuts together.

When I pick up a chestnut, these days, my head does one of those Hollywood flashbacks, and I'm five years old again. It never goes away.

My kids love chestnuts. Every autumn, they will pick up chestnuts by the hundreds, vying to be the one with the most in his collection (yes, they're all boys).

One autumn, while my oldest boy was still an only child, we waited eagerly for his little brother to be born. "By the time the chestnuts are falling," I promised him, "you'll have a little brother." Chestnut time came and went, but they were unseasonably early, and son no. 2 was fashionably late. My son was extremely angry with me for not keeping the promised schedule.

He gave me a chestnut once, when he was small. I still have it. Chestnuts tend to rot if you leave them lying about -- but if you keep one in your pocket, gently fondling it all the time, the oils in your skin will seep into the chestnut and preserve it. Over time, it will get a deep, almost wine-red sheen. Very beautiful.

Chestnuts are my symbol of childhood and love.

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