This is the Year of Abundant Fruiting, as shown by trees as varied as apple and mountain ash. Everything this year has been laden with whatever it is it produces. Above, a diminutive street-tree Spanish chestnut is sagging under the weight of its bounty. I wanted to collect a few of the fallen fruits to take home and open up.
I discovered that they are the prickliest things I have ever attempted to bare-hand. This from a fellow who for two years was a student in the laboratory of a sea urchin expert, and a few years after that, stumbling home from a pub in the UK, thought it might be fun to grab a hedgehog that was shuffling along the pavement. (It wasn't.) There should be an index for prickliness, similar to the one for the heat of chili peppers. These things would be way up in the red zone. I opened my backpack and kicked them inside with my boot. To open up one to see the chestnuts, I used a steak-knife and fork. It is rare that botany requires such weaponry.