A Perfect Storm

Dislodged by autumn’s rising winds, acorns have begun bouncing and tumbling across the landscape, the sound of their fall exploding into the air like the percussive chatter of firecrackers.

If you’re standing near a car when the first gust strikes and the oaks release their seed-crop, the racket is astounding. If you’re sheltering beneath a tin roof, the sound amplifies and becomes deafening. A storm of ripened acorns may be less destructive than hail, but it’s no less impressive.

I experienced my first acorn storm in the Texas hill country, an area of valleys and ridges threaded through with several varieties of oak. The swell of redbuds in spring, the extravagant yellow blooms of prickly pear, the Virginia creeper climbing toward autumn’s true red: all delight the eyes, but the oak can surprise the ears.

I first heard of ‘acorn storms’ on a hill country porch. We’d been rocking and rail-sitting, drinking sweet tea and watching the deer, when someone mentioned the acorn crop. Stories began to flow about lean years and fat, hunger and starvation. As the tales grew more extravagant, I began to laugh. “You might as well be talking snow,” I said. “When you call it the Great Acorn Storm of ’78, you sound like a bunch of Yankees sitting around the woodstove, recalling a particularly memorable blizzard.”

In truth, acorn storms remain as unpredictable as blizzards. Even when the crop is good, there’s no sure way to know when they’ll fall, so there’s nothing to do but wait until the acorns’ great, clacking fall sounds the dinner bell for a multitude of woodland creatures.

My own first experience came just after midnight in a cabin outside Kerrville. A single acorn falling on the tin roof from the oak overhanging the cabin sounded like a gunshot. Roused from sleep to full, heart-pounding attention, I watched prowling shadows wrap their fingers around the window frames, stealthy and intrusive. The same gust of wind that separated the seed from its tree set the outside lantern swaying, giving life to the shadows, but as the wind laid and the lantern grew still, the moving shadows settled back into darkness, and the night grew still.

Convinced at last that neither man nor beast had come to claim my life, I settled back myself and began drifting into sleep. Then, another acorn fell and scrabbled down the roof, followed by a second. As the wind crossed the ridge and began swirling into the valley, branches bent and bowed as a torrent of acorns fell, filling the night with strange, percussive rhythms and the sharp, metallic clatter of their tumble down the roof. It was, I told friends later, a perfect storm.

Apart from their ability to compel the attention of inexperienced city folk, acorns are interesting. They come in assorted sizes and colors, and sport a variety of rakish caps. Smooth, small acorns from live oaks differ considerably from those of the Bur oak, a tree whose large acorn wears a furry, vaguely Russian-looking cap.

Regardless of size, all acorns are a critical part of the food chain. Squirrels and deer dote on them, as do mice, rabbits, foxes, and raccoons. A variety of birds also enjoy them: not only the wild turkey, jay, and woodpecker you might expect, but also water birds like the egrets.

The crop size varies from year to year, partly because of differences in the production cycle of different species. Bur oak production peaks every five to seven years, while live oaks produce extraordinary numbers of acorns every four to ten years. During so-called ‘mast years,’ walking beneath the trees can be like walking on ball bearings.

Publications from county agents, universities, and arborists note this wide variation in yearly acorn production. Most also include a caveat against attempting to draw other, more speculative conclusions from the number of acorns produced. ‘Speculative conclusions’ is a polite term for folk wisdom which believes in the predictive power of acorns. My own grandparents were certain an abundance of acorns signals a harsh winter to come, and a friend who grew up in Nebraska shared this bit of weather wisdom from the plains:  Busy squirrels, blizzards swirl.

Beyond natural cycles, the perfect combination of sunshine and rain can produce a bumper crop of acorns, just as the crop can be diminished by disease, drought, or freezing temperatures.

On the other hand, many believe that diseased or drought-stricken oaks produce more acorns, not fewer, as a way of ensuring the species’ survival. During the worst of our Texas droughts, someone always suggests that a bumper crop of acorns is a last gasp from water-deprived trees.

Arborists seem divided, but there is something both poignant and hopeful in the thought of thirsty, over-heated oaks setting their sights on survival by creating, nurturing, and finally shedding huge numbers of acorns. Potential trees, tiny bits of green-yet-to-be, the acorns cover the ground: huddled beneath their leaves, dreaming of the sunlight and rain that will transform their lives.

As it turns out, acorns also function as a handy metaphor for certain seasonal realities.

When my mail carrier mutters about the burden of delivering catalogs in the weeks before Christmas, I sympathize. I expect to receive a few old favorites — LL Bean, Vermont Country Store, American Spoon Foods — and a few still arrive to remind me of years when I sought special gifts — Orvis, Moonstruck, Whiteflower Farm. But somewhat oddly, this year’s catalogs are filling up the mailbox on a nearly daily basis. Most are from companies I’ve never heard of and with whom I’ve never placed an order: companies with names like Monticello, Acacia, Bits and Pieces and, in a bit of delicious coincidence, Lumber Liquidators.

As the mail carrier handed me the latest batch of glossy enticements, she caught my expression and said, “Nuts, isn’t it?” Indeed, it is. So many catalogs make me slightly uneasy. Designed and distributed to entice shoppers into purchases running the gamut from glittering baubles to simple trash, they seem an unintended sign of retail desperation.

In a diseased and drought-stricken economy, with the threat of frozen spending on the horizon, merchants across the country could be mistaken for slightly desperate oaks, attempting to ensure their survival by raining down catalogs like acorns around our feet.

As small businesses and restaurants close in my neighborhood; as cities board up against violence and looting, I hear the rumors and whispers beginning to circulate. An owner sells a boat here; a person quits a club there. A friend gives up her gym membership. A neighbor decides against lighted outdoor decorations for Christmas.  A single mother’s job is eliminated; a family reduces their income in order to homeschool a child. In the silence, each fact drops with a sharp, disconcerting sound; we look up, startled and anxious, wondering about its source and trying to interpret its meaning.

In Washington, of course, things are neither so grim nor so fraught with anxiety for the senators, staff, lobbyists, and representatives who make it their business to shape the life of a nation. In cities and states, murmured platitudes and demands for obedience apply to the many, but not to the few. As autumn deepens, as the winds of desolation rise and the clatter and clamor of failing businesses and falling hopes echo across the land, they somehow manage to live in their usual ways.

It may be that the sturdiness of their office walls and the splendor of their chambers shield them from the sounds we hear. But autumn has come to America, and the acorns are falling. We can only hope that some will take root, and flourish.

 

Comments always are welcome.

153 thoughts on “A Perfect Storm

    1. When I first met hickory nuts in east Texas, I was surprised to find they’re as tough to crack as black walnuts. I learned that they contain more calories than any other nut, too — quite a boon to the various animals. And I never hear a reference to hickory nuts without remembering this gem.

  1. I love how the acorn production cycle morphed into the statements concerning those in their sturdy walls and splendid chambers. The analogy holds and one wonders when those exempt from hearing the dropping noise of decline will begin to listen up. Super essay, Linda.

    1. Perhaps we’ll know that real listening has begun when “I made a mistake” no longer is used as a euphemism for “I thought I could get away with it.” In my least charitable moments, I remember something my grandfather told me: “If you want a mule to change directions, first get its attention with a 2×4.” He was speaking metaphorically, of course: he was a kind man who never mistreated anyone, including his animals. Still, he was right.

  2. 2020… a year of nuts…many have already been bored. A tiny round hole that has ended the promise of growth to come. Our acorns fell months ago, pecans too, litter the grass.

    1. It’s funny you should mention that. When I first began collecting acorns for my pet squirrel, I didn’t realize what had caused those little holes. It was only after I saw the squirrel rejecting the hole-y ones and going after the whole ones that I asked a few questions and learned about the borers.

      The pecans dropped early here, too, but our oaks still are holding their acorns. I wonder if we’ve had more rain than you.

      As for 2020, let’s just hope 2021 doesn’t take it as a role model.

    1. So many of today’s issues are so tightly interwoven, it can be hard to think about any of them with clarity. Still, we’re all thinking about them, so I thought I’d try to find a creative way to write about one or two. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Great post. We have that conversation everyday on the lack of help from those in power. Hopefully, people will remember in the next election.
    I still think people are throwing things at me when acorns hit my car. Our busiest intersection is lined with oaks.

    1. I’d forgotten about the acorn-and-car connection. When I spent my days in the Rice Village area, a drive down Shepherd or around Rice University in the fall could be pretty darned noisy.

      I honestly think more conversation would be one good step toward — well, something better. Last weekend, friends and I put some ribs on the grill, and spent the afternoon talking. It wasn’t until later that we realized how pleasant it had been to spend time without tv or texting or scrolling on a phone. Despite real disagreements on some issues, no one yelled, and no one engaged in name-calling. It was refreshing, to say the least.

  4. Beautifully written … it got me so engaged and immersed. This whole year of 2020 seem to have been all about ‘nuts’ not just because of Covid-19 but with everything else going on, too.

    1. Believe me, Pete. ‘Engaged and immersed’ are two words that make any writer’s heart happy. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. It has been quite a year, although I suspect several of the issues we’re dealing with now aren’t going to disappear in January. Personally, I’m glad Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the near horizon. I’m not exactly the Aux Barricades! sort, but I might sing a few Christmas carols, despite prohibitions against singing.

  5. My in-laws attempted to track their acorns this year, a bumper year, by paying my kids a penny an acorn to gather from the yard. My kids wore out after 1250 acorns.
    I attempted to keep track of the folks I knew joining the unemployment rolls. I lost track after 25. That was in April.
    I hope a new bumper crop, of different harvests, is on the near horizon.

    1. A penny an acorn is a great deal — both for the kids, and for your in-laws. I’ve known people who would pay two cents per acorn to get them out of their yard. Kudos to your kids; 1250 is quite a haul.

      Like you, I know people who’ve lost their jobs, and I know people who have lost their businesses. There’s more damage to come; I hope it’s not as significant as some suggest. ‘Less fear, more life’ is my mantra.

      1. Yes. That’s a good mantra.

        A man at the nursery weeks back looked from my wire cart to his, both full of small green lives and said full of delight, “hey! You have hope for the future, too!”

  6. A lovely, well-written piece, Linda, displaying your customary mastery of the written word. The subject matter is almost incidental to the beauty of the prose. Would that I could do so well. As for acorns, they seem always to me to be a symbol of permanence and of predictability. Little acorns become mighty oaks, as they always have, and perhaps now more than ever we need something we can count on.

    1. Your association of acorns with the permanence and predictability of the oaks is lovely, and comforting. External forces may stunt or destroy a given tree, but the life force contained within the seed will flourish in other individuals. I’ve been waiting for a little time to pass to re-visit the San Bernard Oak. It may be that the time has come; there’s something about those mighty oaks that puts other issues into perspective.

  7. A thoughtful and pleasing meditation on our current predicament, seasonal and otherwise. We’ve been watching the deer browse our acorn fall and wondering what the near and long-term future holds for the winter and our freedom to move about, not to mention the plight of our local businesses.

    Your mention of the predictive power of acorn falls, or the lack thereof, reminds me of the debates I’ve had with folks that believe Cenizo (Texas Sage) predicts rain. I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of psychic plants. The data shows that Cenizo blooms after a rain, although the delay is long enough that the causative rain is forgotten and probabilities say it’s likely to rain again soon. But the true believers hang on.

    I can’t help but wonder how that debate compares to the waxing and waning of COVID and the ratcheting up and down of restrictions. When someone says they will listen to the experts for guidance on shutting down, I ask which experts, and when?

    1. I was greatly amused by your comments about the Cenizo. I’ll confess to being more-or-less a believer, although I’m willing to allow that rising humidity levels prior to rain probably play a role in sudden blooms. Uvalde was involved in my coming to faith; I’ve even written about my experiences with the Barometer Bush.

      I often think about growing up in the late 1940s and 1950s, when diseases like scarlet fever, whooping cough, and especially polio were such concerns. I remember closed swimming pools and quarantine placards on windows; I remember iron lungs and paralyzed classmates. I also remember that society didn’t shut down. When we lined up to get our live polio vaccine on that little sugar cube, we were relieved, but life didn’t change. We didn’t need a re-start, because we’d never stopped. I’m not certain some of today’s rule-setters understand the consequences of their rules. If they do? That’s a different issue.

      1. I remember those same things in the 1950s. I stood in line at school for my sugar cube and had friends in polio braces. But, as with you, I also remember we did not shut down. If I were to guess, I’d bet many of today’s rule-setters have a blind faith in their wisdom and power and believe they can overcome any difficulties and provide for us later, no matter the consequences. I have tremendous trouble with all aspects and implications of their faith.

    1. I suspect that families gathering for holiday celebrations are going to be just fine: particularly if they’re smart enough to observe basic precautions. In truth, enforcing the isolation of family members from one another can be remarkably cruel. The elderly are particularly vulnerable; an acquaintance recently said she’d rather die of Covid than live without hugs from her grandchildren. The good news is that the family’s sharing Thanksgiving, and she’ll get those hugs.

      1. I hope you are correct. My family will not be together at all because my nephew and my elderly father are in quarantine because each continues to socialize and not wear a mask.

        1. I’m sorry you’ll miss the opportunity for a family gathering. Because of the somewhat odd nature of my work (outdoors and isolated), and my pre-pandemic habits (I haven’t been to a mall in years, and don’t enjoy bars), my own exposure’s somewhat limited. On the other hand, my only aunt and I decided to forego my visit this fall. I wasn’t worried about being with her in Kansas City, but the possibility of being exposed on my way there was real. Everyone’s continually doing a cost/benefit analysis, and it can be tiring.

  8. Thank you Linda for this brilliant piece. I not only learned about acorn storms but loved your segue into a great metaphor about the storm of bureaucratic control that has descended upon us. Autumn has indeed arrived in America.

    1. In different ways, you and I have turned out to be a couple of the lucky ones in all this. Both my work and your living situation have allowed us to be flexible, and less subject to certain of the controls. Beyond that, we’ve both adopted the advice offered by a local physician associated with our medical center. Asked how to reduce stress in these trying circumstances, he said, “Build up your immune system and stay off social media.” Done, and done!

  9. Your last few paragraphs are a sad yet accurate commentary on where things have gone in this country in 2020. We have to hope for better next year.

    In the less sad world of mast, just two days ago I photographed a bur oak acorn. I don’t often see those, so I usually take pictures whenever I come across them.

    1. I first encountered bur oaks in Kansas, where many of the famous trees — the ones associated with treaties and such — are bur oaks. I brought a couple dozen of their acorns home with me, since I’d never seen one in Texas. I just looked at a distribution map and see the trees are spread across the central part of the state. Since they’re said to enjoy limestone soils, that makes sense.

      Right now, too many of our elected officials sound like parents resorting to, “Because I say so, that’s why,” and too many citizens resemble recalcitrant teenagers muttering “Try and make me” under their breath. Let’s hope 2021 brings more adults to the table.

  10. Your beautiful prose draws me in each time I read it. But this time the subject of acorns really had my attention! Our season of dropping acorns was scant and short-lived. And as you know, I needed it to be much bigger and longer in order to supplement feeding those fawns. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I had to scrounge around and scavenge – competing with other wildlife, for what I did find.I incorporated the help of a sister and her friend from Nebraska. Daily we climbed ladders to pick from the trees, drove the buggy to the land of oaks in the pecan orchard and crawled around on the ground, just to get a few small buckets worth of red acorns for the girls. Biting insects and cackling birds attempting to drive us away were part of the battle. Through all of the work, I remembered the year before, raising Tukker deer and finding all of those huge, lovely white acorns. He had plenty to get him through the entire winter.

    We continue to allow oak trees, planted randomly by squirrels, to grow all over this ranch. Our intent is to continue to nourish and offer protection for wildlife in the future. I completely agree with David’s last sentence: “Little acorns become mighty oaks, as they always have, and perhaps now more than ever we need something we can count on.” Well said.

    1. Your dedication always has been remarkable, but the thought of climbing the oaks in pursuit of acorns takes it up another notch. It is a shame that your crop is down when your very local (!) population is up. I’ve heard the deer hunters around here complaining that abundant acorns seem to be keeping deer from the corn; I wish we could send some of that bounty up your way.

      ‘Grow your own acorns’ is a very long term project, to say the least. I’ve never thought about it, but how long does it take for an oak to begin producing acorns? It would be wonderful fun to see some of your own trees mature to that point. You’re young enough that it might happen!

        1. Speaking of Shakespeare, I have a question. In my post about the snowy egret, I used the phrase, “If patience be a virtue…” Later, I remembered the famous line that uses the same construction: “If music be the food of love…” Grammatically speaking, what is that “if…be” construction called? Trying to figure it out, the best guess I came up with was some form of the subjunctive, but I’m not sure about that.

          1. Yes, that’s an English take on the subjunctive, mimicking Latin and French (Anglo-Saxon had quite a reduced tense structure). The “if…be” construction is now archaic. The past subjunctive to express a hypothetical or counter-factual is still hanging on, e.g. “If I were in charge…,” but increasingly many people say “If I was in charge….”

  11. “Autumn has come to America” is the softest and yet most ominous metaphor for our nation. All trees die eventually, but I pray that ours is just going through an extra-dry autumn.

    In any case, your skillful word pictures take us right on to broader realms and will help me to think in terms not of panic worthy cataclysm but of slow natural processes. Maybe there will be a few smaller “acorns” not too difficult for me clean up.

    1. It’s worth remembering that the media and others are invested in maintaining a sense of panic and fear for the sake of ‘clicks’ and other benefits. We’ve known for decades that car crashes and murders will lead on the evening news; this is the same dynamic, writ large. Of course the virus is serious, and of course precautions should be taken. On the other hand, it’s well known that stress affects our immune system negatively, so eliminating obvious fear-mongers from our lives is as important as good nutrition.

      For a wholly amusing take on the media, nothing beats this parody done by some Toronto broadcasters. If you haven’t seen it, I suspect it will bring a smile.

  12. Linda, it fascinates me how you can take a subject like acorns and keep me hanging on your every word until you end up talking about the economy and politicians! I enjoy hearing tales of weather forecasting, too. How interesting that these trees seem to know when to drop their nuts and how to do so to propagate the species. I got a kick out of your story of the first time you heard the “storm” — I imagine I, too, would have been startled awake (perhaps with a baseball bat or gun in hand, ha!) You know, I heard it said that if we’d known to shut down everything for a month when this thing started, we’d have whipped it by now. Wouldn’t that be nice?!

    1. When city-me began spending time in the country, I had to learn to sort out a lot of bump-in-the-night sounds: deer snorting, armadillos snuffling, coyotes sounding like a choir of doom. I never got to the point of sleeping through the most dramatic, but after a time I did begin going back to sleep far more quickly.

      As for that move from acorns to politicians, the easy connection is to say they’re both nuts. But it’s more complicated than that, and with this piece, thinking things through was much harder than the writing. I suspect that an unwillingness to think things through — particularly in terms of regulations — has made the situation worse. Rampant hypocrisy and an arbitrary application of rules hasn’t helped. But, for better or for worse, here we are. With luck and logic — and effective vaccines — we may begin to move out of the chaos.

    1. That first one is the acorn of the bur oak. They’re not just fancy, they’re quite large. They hold up well, too. I brought some back from Kansas nearly five years ago, and they’re just as spiffy as they were when they were fresh.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Becky. Finding the sort of connections that I included in this post come easily to me, but turning them into something readable isn’t so easy. That’s why I have some drafts in my files that are two or three years old — or more. I haven’t found a way to make the turn yet.

  13. Linda, this is a fine essay, and the segues from acorns to business to politics are very deft indeed. The old deadwood senators, squirrelly extremists, and greedy lobbyists, as usual, seem more interested in shaking the money tree, than nurturing any tree of liberty or democracy.
    Last year was a notable one for acorns in the northeast, when they carpet bomb a hard stretch of trail, you weren’t kidding when you compared it to walking on ball bearings
    I like the fancy Russian hat ones in your first photo, around here, I just see the plain beret version.

    1. Fully agree with Robert about your fine essay Linda! acorns *are* indeed like ball bearings and I’ve experienced that. I can easily imagine the racket they’d make falling on a tin roof.

    2. I like your adjectives, Rob: deadwood, squirrelly, and greedy are both descriptive and true. As for shaking the money tree, there’s a whole lot of that going on these days. The proliferation of 501(c)4s is especially interesting, but that’s a different subject for a different day.

      The only natural phenomenon I’ve found that comes close to walking on acorns is walking across my front yard. I have cypress trees nearby, and their ‘knees’ have spread through the grass. Most aren’t tall enough to notice, until you try walking across them. Squirrels and dogs make their way through them easily, but people? Not so much.

    1. I pick up my mail at a central location, and when I do, I stand at the trash can and do what I call a postal triage. Most get tossed before they ever make it to my home. Standard exceptions are anything advertising chocolate or a couple of bakeries. I take them home, ponder them for a couple of weeks, and then throw them away.

  14. Wonderful story of the random perfect acorn storm. And then you seamlessly slipped into the impact of the human equivalent acorn storms going unnoticed in the halls of government. What an amazing writer you are.

    1. I love that you used the word ‘seamlessly,’ Dor. That’s the hardest part of writing a piece like this, and far too often the seams show — just like they did in my 8th grade home ec sewing projects.

      Looking at photos from your spot in the world, I suspect you have your share of acorns. I hope there are enough for deer and squirrels alike!

  15. It’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve heard an acorn storm. This post put a smile on my face at the memory. The old wives tale told back then was that a heavy acorn season meant it was going to be a hard winter.

    1. I’ve heard the same thing. I don’t remember “Busy squirrels, blizzards swirl” from childhood, but we certainly examined the caterpillars. The so-called woolly worms had brown and black fuzzy stripes, and the wider the black bands, the more severe the winter to come — or so people said.

      In just the past two weeks I’ve noticed our squirrels really bulking up, and they’re going crazy chasing one another around. That may not be entirely food-related, though. The peak of their first breeding season is January/February, so some of the action could be territorial, or just showing off for the girls.

    1. Indeed we are, Eliza. Eventually, the wheel will turn; at least, I hope so.

      As for the lean and mast years, who knows? Maybe the seemingly irrational demand for toilet paper when the pandemic first emerged is akin to acorn hoarding in nature. It certainly was squirrelly behavior.

  16. You have a poetic and earthy way to describe your pictures. It is definitely a fresh wind blowing in the often desert-like blogging world, where words like nice, great, amazing, etc. are scattered over a bleak writer’s landscape. Your description of the acorns hitting the cabin’s tin roof reminded me of a camping experience in our trailer. Squirrels had fun throwing pinecones on the trailer roof waking us up at five in the morning and creating an incredible racket.

    1. I smiled at your mention of those oft-used superlatives, Peter. It seems to me that when everything is ‘terrific’ or ‘awesome,’ nothing is terrific or awesome.

      I have no doubt those squirrels knew what they were doing when they started throwing pinecones. While living with a pet squirrel, I learned exactly how smart those creatures are — not to mention how intentional they can be in their actions. When mine threw a tantrum, it was something to behold. He’d jump up on the bar, cross his arms, and stomp his little feet. If he still was angry, he’d find the nearest charging cable or electric wire and take a bite out of it, keeping his eye on us the whole time. Oddly, I still miss that little guy.

  17. For the last 15 years or so we have stayed in the same cabin group in Bar Harbor while visiting Acadia. Most all the cottages are surrounded by white oaks and we occasionally would hear an acorn drop when there in autumn. Last year however could be described as you have…an acorn storm. It was almost non-stop, especially at night while we tried to sleep. Might as well have been sleeping inside one of Buddy Rich’s snares.
    That first shot holds the “hairiest” acorns I’ve ever seen.

    1. Aren’t those bur oak acorns something? I just measured one I brought back from Kansas; including the cap, it’s 2-3/4″ long. That would make quite a weapon in any kids’ acorn wars.

      We’re on the far western edge of the white oaks, but they’re around. In fact, it was White Oak Bayou that I had to clean up after when Tropical Storm Allison hit. Acorn storms beat tropical storms, hands down.

      Sleeping inside a snare drum gets it, perfectly. As for Buddy Rich, I’d forgotten how good he was. A quick visit to the Tube brought it all back.

      1. Buddy’s a favorite. I enjoy drum solos and watch quite a few. It’s amazing how he had such complex full and rich rhythms with such a small drum set. I’m also a Neil Peart fan but his drum setup is a bit beyond. He’s a very entertaining drummer.

  18. I loved reading your poetically written piece on acorns Linda, and the way it became a metaphor for today’s times. I feel the same way about Canberra as you do about Washington: the poor and dispossessed are the ones bearing the brunt of all this, it seems to me. There seem to be so many issues these days that it is hard work keeping track of and understanding all of them. I’m quite exhausted by it all, and have to make myself take a break from it every now and then.
    I didn’t know that oak trees dropped their acorns in such an extravagant fashion. Thank you for enlightening me with your engaging piece.

    1. I sometimes wonder whether the increasing number of conflicting and arbitrary advisories aren’t meant, at least in part, to keep people distracted and confused. Even if that isn’t the intent, the exhaustion and depression that people are experiencing because of them is just as real. Taking a break from the constant coverage certainly makes sense, as does a refusal to be nagged to death by people who are certain that their way of coping is the only way.

      A little time spent with the acorns, or the garden, or the fields, is a fine tonic. The natural world goes on, and its cycles are intact. With any luck and a little wisdom, we’ll begin putting our human world back together, as well.

  19. Outstanding writing. Thank you.

    Tin roofs, porches and acorns. Truly ingredients for a perfect storm. One minute, rockin’ and talkin’. A gust of November wind and suddenly it’s a war zone!

    About a hundred years ago, when I was much younger but not much dumber, I think I tasted every variety acorn I could find. After all, the squirrels liked them. I finally came to the realization I was not a squirrel.

    A perfect storm may be brewing in the power-crazed atmosphere choking America’s governing class. The tin roof over the nation’s legislatures is beginning to ping with acorns blown loose from their traditional moorings within the branches of Liberty’s Oak Trees.

    Good news!

    Thanksgiving is almost here!! We have so much for which we are truly grateful that it dwarfs all the negative news of the year! There will be family! There will be food! There will be singing! There will be love!

    Y’all come on over. Bring a pecan pie.

    1. You are a very smart man, Wally. I happen to make the world’s best pecan pie — or at least an extraordinarily good one. I’ll bring two, so there are seconds for everyone. (What fun that would be!)

      What’s interesting about acorn-eating is that plenty of Native Americans have done just that, and today’s foragers have kept up the practice. Raw acorns are bitter because of the tannins they contain, but after leaching with hot or cold water, depending on their intended use, they can be ground for flour or meal, or even used for a coffee-like, non-caffeinated beverage.

      Some of the pre-Thanksgiving regulations being imposed around the country are beginning to verge on irrationality. At one point, I couldn’t help thinking of Oprah Winfrey doling out goodies: “You get a regulation! And you get a regulation! And YOU get two regulations!” Well, Thanksgiving’s nearly here, and some of the good news of this holiday is that gratitude can’t be regulated!

      1. I can’t help but think about the Pilgrims sailing across a dangerous ocean a few years ago. Weren’t they trying to get away from irrational regulations?
        One of those guys, Edward Winslow, wrote in 1621: “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

        That’s what we continue to be thankful for, we are “so far from want”.

        Hope your Turkey Day is fabulous!

  20. This piece is a beautiful piece of writing in every way. You’ve managed to share stories of acorn storms with readers who have either never heard of them or do not live in an environment where they can experience millions of acorns on the ground, under the tree canopy, on driveways, creek beds, and in a puppy’s mouth.

    Yes. The synchronicity of this post with my current problem floored me. My new Portie puppy we picked up 8 days ago. She is a dreamboat of a dog. However, the only place on our rancho for her to do her business in on a circle of lawn under on of our 25 oaks. You guessed it! She is trying to eat acorns at every turn and my enjoyment of taking a puppy out on the lawn has turned into a neurotic search for an acorn in her mouth. This is one of those experiences that is truly out of my control–the acorns are 100 times worse this year. Must have been a storm.

    Aside from the sidebar to your post, is your uncanny ability to connect parts of your essays with current events and I’d say this is one of your best.

    I’d be interested in a post from you about how you keep your optimism, your creativity, your can-do attitude in the middle of a very difficult time. I find you so inspirational.

    Thank you, Linda.

    1. Don’t I remember a story about a certain dog trying to take olives away from you in a pantry? I’ve heard that some breeds will eat anything that comes their way, and it sounds like you have a bit of a track record with them. Are the acorns toxic to your new pup, or is it a matter of worrying about choking? Whichever, you certainly have your hands full.

      I appreciate your comment about the way I wove together the acorn storms and current events. You’ll understand what was involved when I say I moved from about 2100 words to 1279. That’s not just editing for word count; it’s editing for coherence, and it’s work — the kind that kept me home over the weekend, rather than roaming with the camera. Can’t serve two masters, and all that.

      One of my favorite Hemmingway quotations is, “What difference does it make if you live in a picturesque little outhouse surrounded by 300 feeble minded goats and your faithful dog? The question is: Can you write?” When the answer’s “yes,” it’s always a happy day.

      As for a post about optimism, creativity, etc., that probably won’t happen: at least, specifically. But there are clues all through my archives — posts I’ve written that reference significant life lessons, and experiences that have shaped me. One of these rainy days I’ll pick out a few of the most relevant, and email the links.

      There is a comment I left on another blog about five years ago that I copied and saved. I re-read it from time to time, and it’s still holding up. You might get a kick out of it:

      “I’m down to about twenty years now, give or take, and getting in shape, preserving the good health I have, and not wasting time on the stupid, the boring, or the irrelevant is right up there on top of my list. If I manage to avoid stupid, boring, and irrelevant, I’ll have plenty of time for what’s important.”

  21. We are entering a time of change that will affect the world every bit as profoundly as the industrial revolution did. I don’t know what this new revolution is called — the digital revolution? The internet revolution? — but the landscape of our world will change — is already changing. I can’t decide whether I’m hopeful, or whether I’m unnerved by the changes that are in the wind.

    1. I have to say I’m both: hopeful, and more or less unnerved, depending on the subject at hand. I’m especially concerned about the censorious spirit that pervades social media and the so-called ‘cancel culture,’ not to mention trends toward authoritarianism at every level of government. Faulkner nailed it in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech so many decades ago. The problem isn’t 3-D printers or video chats; the problem is the human heart in conflict with itself. Recognizing and resolving those conflicts are going to take some effort.

  22. The metaphor works extremely well! A marvelous piece of writing, this one. As an acorn aside, I don’t know if you remember but I wrote a blog a couple of years ago about a little bur oak eaten to the ground by my local rabbits. The roots weren’t giving up though and a new shoot came through which is now a bur oak tree about a foot high, or so. Perhaps one day I’ll see it drop an acorn, and if I beat the squirrels to it, it will sit on my desk as metaphor of its own.

    1. I do remember your story of the rabbits and the oak. It’s good to know that it’s recovered to some degree, and is thriving. The acorns I brought back with me are so large it’s hard to imagine a squirrel carting them around, but they can be determined little beasties. Have you protected your young tree from the rabbits? It would be sad for them to gnaw it down again.

  23. Such a pertinent message if only those in D.C. would read — couched in a lovely descriptive tale. I recall finding a few acorns with those little hats when I was young, but never heard them drop in the quantity you describe.

    1. Those little ‘hats’ the acorns wear are such fun. We’d sometimes draw faces on them as children, and use them as the heads for corn cob dolls. The head-to-body proportion could be a little odd, but we didn’t care.

      I hope you get to experience the sound of them falling in such great numbers some day. It’s quite an impressive sound — and quite a sight once they’re down, too.

  24. Our white oak acorns are mainly down now. The deer are still busy crunching away however. The grey squirrels are also active. And the mice. Our outdoor shoes live outside, Linda, and we always turn them over and shake them out. Often as not, there are acorn husks inside. The shoes make a handy place for the mice to hide away while they have an uninterrupted meal. We also have a couple of black oaks and live oaks on our property, but there are at least a hundred white oaks. I was reading the other day in Scientific American that grey squirrels prefer the black oak acorns for burying, They take two years to grow and are tougher than the white oaks. They don’t rot when the squirrels buy them. –Curt

    1. This is the first year I’ve had gray squirrels in abundance, and watching their antics (not to mention their conflicts with the fox squirrels) is quite a treat. I don’t leave my shoes outside, but I do find acorns under my doormat. I suppose its a version of any port in a storm.

      It’s interesting that the grays have a preference when it comes to the right acorn to bury. On the other hand, they’ve had some experience, and clearly learned some lessons. I learned not to hand out pecans in the shell to the friendliest beasts, because they’d bury them immediately. Given a shelled pecan half, it’s snack time. I have one that comes from a tree some distance away; I’ve been feeding her since her babies were born, and she’s willing now to take the pecan from my hand. Great fun.

      1. There is no end to the entertainment that our wild creatures provide, Linda. And education. It’s amazing what you can learn about animal behavior if you are patient and have a front row seat! Our deer will eat apples out of our hands if we encourage them. –Curt

  25. While I thoroughly enjoyed the nut part of the essay, you certainly performed an elegant and poignant turn at the end. Indeed, your line “…demands for obedience apply to the many, but not to the few.” resonated. Autumn, yes. Hope, maybe.

    My two Red oaks are dropping their nuts now: thrash, bang, crash. There aren’t as many this year as in some years. I’ve been pinged on the head by one–very OUCH!–and one autumn one fell, breaking a glass ball which sat atop a plinth sitting in one of my gardens. I should have thought about placement more…

    The other day I was walking in my neighborhood and passed a Bur oak growing in someone’s front yard. I heard the crashing and drama of one of its acorns as it was falling to the ground. I hoped it wouldn’t hit me on the head, and it didn’t; the dangerous nut fell just behind me. No injuries on that walk! :) I am having to dodge acorns–big and small–as I ride my bike!

    1. I’m still thinking about that acorn that broke your glass ball. I wouldn’t have thought that possible, but I suppose the height from which it fell contributed, as well as hitting the ball in just the ‘right’ place. Our live oaks are dropping leaves not, but I still haven’t seen the ground covered in acorns like it usually is. I suppose our continuing warm weather might have something to do with it, since even the cypress trees aren’t turning as quickly as they usually do.

      I’d not thought of the dangers of bike-riding after an acorn storm. Getting thrown from a horse is one thing. Getting thrown from a bicycle because of an acorn is something else. It’s a wild world out there!

  26. The Great Acorn Storms! Now that is a novel experience. Sounds terrific. Your mastery of word pictures is evident in excellence in your first two paragraphs, and the rest trails along all dress in finery also. Especially interesting to me is regarding the abundance of acorns perhaps coming from a bad tree to insure its continuance, at my age I wish I had left more acorns. I think I mixed up that last statement. Did you get me?

    1. Thanks for those kind words, Oneta. I do ‘get you,’ although I’d say that if you were an oak, you’ve done a good job of producing. There are a lot of acorns scattered around your roots, from this year and years past, and some of them clearly are growing well. In the end, growth and fruition win, however rough the conditions or lean the year.

  27. I like the idea of a perfect storm as acorns ping onto rood tops and fall to the ground with the softest of thuds. This is the first year that I can recall of no acorns falling from the live oaks and the red oaks. Maybe way back many moons ago there were no acorns and I can only hope that my trees are not diseased. I would not be able to afford treating the trees since it is quite expensive with no guarantees. My favorite acorn is the burr oak and I have gathered those in the past but not this year.

    1. I suspect your trees are just fine, Yvonne. While conditions like drought or disease can affect oaks’ acorn production, they have their own cycles: some years the pickings are slim, and other years even the squirrels and deer get more than their fill. Like you, I enjoy the bur oaks’ acorns, although I’ve never found one around here. It seems they might be more common in east Texas (as well as in your area), so I’ll have to keep my eyes open the next time I’m there.

      1. Yes, there are some here in central Texas and they are sold in the nurseries. There are large old trees at Baylor and some that grow in the river bottoms as well as a few natives and some nursery specimens in my town. I wish that I had planted a bur oak years ago but it was hard to find a spot with some many trees. Over the years several trees other native trees of elm, hack berry and a few live oaks died. But that is how luck would have it and now there are a few open spaces but I am far too old to plant a bur oak now because I would not live to see it produce acorns unless I doubtfully could make it to 100 years.

  28. Certainly a mast year here in the UK – huge acorn harvests, as well as the other nuts and berries.

    And here’s to hoping the transition in the US takes place peacefully!

    1. Of all the things I ponder over, a peaceful political transition is pretty far down the list. I don’t even have it on my list, to be honest. There are plenty of media people, social media enthusiasts, and politicians who enjoy spouting off, but for the most part it’s a wheel-within-a-wheel sort of dynamic. They continue spinning, but won’t affect the direction of travel.

      It’s interesting about your mast year. I’ve heard others from the UK mention it. I just learned from one blogger there that even pigs enjoy acorns!

      1. Pigs love them. One of the old Commoners Rights that people had in Medieval times (and more recently) was the right of Pannage on common land, that is to say taking their pigs there to feed on (predominantly) the fallen acorns.

        And it’s just beginning to look more likely there may be a peaceful transition…

        1. When I read that other blog, I had to look up ‘pannage.’ I’d never heard the word. As a matter of fact, that writer lives in the New Forest, which has exactly that history.

  29. We have a lot of acorns around this fall. I haven’t noticed any cycles in that. My brother planted a sweetgum tree near his house many years ago. It dropped big seeds on his roof and made a mess for cleanup. We had walnuts at a previous house. Talk about messy.

    1. Sadly, you’ve had as many trees fall as acorns. When it comes to walking on ball bearings, those walnuts will do it, but the sweetgum balls are dangerous. I enjoy them for dried arrangements, but they sure can be messy and hard to work around.

      What kind of walnuts did you have? My mother and dad used to seek out black walnut trees, and we’d spend days trying to crack them and pick out the meats. Nothing’s harder to get out that the stain from those things, and very little’s harder than those shells. We’d put them on the concrete and use a hammer to get them open.

      1. Black walnuts were in the back yard of our house many years ago. It was at the top of a long street that went down toward a river thru town. Our son was about 2. We loaded his red wagon with walnuts and rolled them down the street.

        1. That even sounds like fun to a 74-year-old! Here’s another bit of fun. Every now and then, I get the urge to go old school and turn on the radio’s AM band. Tonight, I picked up WHO out of Des Moines, clear as could be. Winter’s here!

  30. When it comes to acorns and their seasonal bounty, I can only offer this anecdotal note: when we moved into this house in Colorado, it came with a small plum tree in the backyard. It bore almost no fruit from year to year, until we had a particularly dry summer. As the drought dragged toward autumn and the grass lay scorched all around, that plum tree was a sight. The branches hung heavy with full, meaty plums, so much so that I made several trips to the food bank with the overflow.

    As for our ‘representation’ in Washington, well, some things never change.

    1. As with acorns, so with plums, apparently. The biggest difference is that your plums were good people food. I’ve seen persimmon trees do the same thing. It seems counter-intuitive to me; you’d think that in a drought there would be less fruit. But, I guess the trees know what they’re doing. For one thing, animals who feed on the fruit would help to scatter the seeds, ensuring the tree gets another chance.

  31. I didn’t know much about acorns, so thank you for the information. I’ll be more cognizant of oak trees and acorns in the future.

    We’ve been getting peculiar catalogues, too. I expect LL Bean and Plow & Hearth and Pottery Barn, but the other ones have given me pause. I don’t see us as a family with garish hand-painted dinnerware or ruffles + lace on our bed linens or tables made of wine casks, but some algorithm somewhere does.

    1. That made me laugh. Every time one of those algorithms tells me I might be interested in this or that, they’re so wrong it’s hilarious. It never occurred to me that the algorithms might be behind some of those odd catalogues, but of course that’s possible. Now that you’ve solved that mystery for me, go off and enjoy the season. Don’t let the ghosts of Covid Past or Covid Future haunt you!

  32. around here it’s the sound of falling pecans hitting the metal roofs of car ports. we do have two big oak trees on the west side of the house. this years crop is about average, not sparse but not massive.

    1. Carports would do it. Now that you mention it, I haven’t heard that pinging around here. Either we don’t have a good crop this year, or they haven’t begun to fall. The cypress tree balls aren’t falling yet, and the squirrels haven’t started nibbling on them, so we might just be a littlle behind you.

  33. Shoreacres, your post resonates so deeply with me and I found myself nodding yes, yes, yes to the later part of it. Autumn has definitely arrived throughout our great land and the acorns are falling, but far too many folks – especially those in the political realm – can’t see the forest for the trees. But we continue to hang on to hope just like those squirrels stashing away their acorns to survive the winter season so they may usher in spring alive and healthy. On a literal note, we do have oak trees here in our area, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever experienced an acorn storm.

    1. Sometimes I think the politicians can’t see what’s right in front of their noses, and sometimes I think they see what’s happening perfectly well, but just don’t care. They’re wealthy, and cosseted, and surrounded by hangers-on who allow them to maintain their illusions of omnipotence; the gap between their rhetoric and their actions can be substantial.

      On the other hand, the vision of some of our younger citizens isn’t so sharp, either. There’s something touching about their continual search for a ‘safe space.’ The world isn’t safe, and learning to cope with that reality is part of growing up.

      Anyway: autumn’s here, the holidays are around the corner, and the acorns are plentiful. The squirrels are feasting, and I hope you’re able to do the same!

  34. You know where my politics lie, but your last paragraph feels so true no matter which side of the aisle you favor – they are all playing with our lives and none of them are doing it well.

    We had a bumper crop of chestnut oak acorns this year. The metal carport is just outside the bedroom window and just beside the tree & we had QUITE a cacophony going at times! We also have white oaks, and it it interesting that the critters seem to prefer their smaller acorns & leave the chestnut oaks for us to deal with. Dr. M took a picture a couple of years ago to demonstrate the difference in size. You can see it on this post – scroll down to October 14th.

    1. That’s what I hoped for, Dana — that everyone, no matter their convictions, could find something valuable in the post. There are underlying issues that concern us all, and the sooner we stop lobbing insults at one another, the better off we’ll be. As a country, we’ll never reach perfect agreement on any issue, but that’s part of the beauty of this nation. As I said to someone recently, understanding isn’t necessarily agreement. I can understand someone’s position on a given issue and still work against its implementation — but that doesn’t mean that we cast each other into the outer darkness.

      Those acorns are interesting. There’s such variety — and they’re all cute. I liked the autumn tree, too. I’ve never seen one done up like that. It’s very attractive.

  35. Sorry, late here again, but I have to tell you this is one of my very favorite posts of yours. I’ve not heard of acorn storms, but your analogies to some of our political leaders’ shielding preventing them from taking note of the sharp reports of individual desperation are particularly poignant.

    1. You’re not late, Gary. I’ve had people comment on posts as long as a couple of years after I’ve written them, thanks to the wonder of search engines. That’s why I leave comments open. And in truth, I can be a little slow in responding to comments. I try to respond in a day, but sometimes it slips over.

      I’m surprised you’ve not experienced an acorn storm: in Nebraska, if not in Minnesota. On the other hand, all those pine cones in Minnesota might create their own sort of racket. One of my learning experiences in east Texas involves pine needles. I had no idea that falling needles could be so loud — especially when they’re falling onto dry leaves.

      I’m pleased to know you appreciated the post. When I read about the lists that are being suggested or compiled for post-election ‘retribution,’ it’s unnerving. I’m old enough to remember the McCarthy hearings, and if there’s anything we don’t need, it’s a dose of that sort of thing — on either side of any political fence.

  36. I recall with fondness that rain of pistol shots as the acorns pummeled our roof when we lived near the river. I worried about anything caught in that storm, kind of like hail on the prairie – but then I would remind myself of the WHACK! WHACK! of turkeys bouncing off the trunks and branches of the oak grove.

    Turkeys are not graceful fliers and seem to enjoy pin-balling between the trees.

    So I never feared for them.

    1. I haven’t often seen wild turkeys, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them fly. They usually just hot-foot it into the corn or the grasses, and that’s the end of it. Just for grins, I did a search for ‘wild turkeys flying into trees,’ but all the videos just showed them roosting for the night. I didn’t see any pin-ballers, but there sure are some awkward ones out there.

  37. What a well-written post! My neighbor has an oak tree that is liberally sprinkling out driveway with acorns, and they make a very loud pop when we drive over them. And for years my mom would complain about the sound of acorns hitting her roof every fall….I used to think she was exaggerating until I was at her house when it happened, and realized she was not. And my dog loves to eat them, which would be fine if they didn’t give him tremendous gas. (Nothing smells worse that a dog fart, trust me on this.)
    As for the comparison to our current situation, I couldn’t agree more! The people who are making the decisions are just fine, so they have no problem making decisions that hurt the rest of us terribly. And the consequences of the shut downs will last for year, and probably be used as an excuse to increase their power in order to bail us out of the mess they created. There’s a reason I have no patience for politicians….

    1. I laughed at your acorn-eating dog. Another reader was talking about her new puppy; he has a taste for acorns, too, and she’s constantly pulling them out of his mouth. As for your mom’s crop, it makes sense that her descriptions might seem a little dramatic. Until someone’s experienced what those oak trees are capable of, it does seem fanciful.

      As far as the country goes, governmental officials, both elected and appointed, aren’t alone in running amok. The law of unintended consequences is abroad in the land, too, and the children are among those suffering the most. There’s no reason for them not to be in classrooms, and the sooner that’s sorted out, the better off we’ll be. We shouldn’t be using children as pawns in this inexplicable game.

  38. The acorn fall last year in my back yard brought a proliferation of weedy oak saplings in my wildflower meadow. Tiny oaks are the very devil to pull out. As I cleared the meadow this fall for reseeding I raked out as many acorns as I could. They don’t pound my car at least, fewer oaks in the front yard.

    Fine essay, as always. The bur oak acorn image is delightful, I’d love to see one.

    1. Raking acorns is an activity that’s never crossed my mind, but I suppose getting them up at that stage is a lot easier than pulling out baby trees. I’ll occasionally try to pull out the invasive Chinese tallow trees that are ubiquitous here, and I’ve found that even when they’re only a few inches tall above ground, those roots are deep.

      The bur oaks are such handsome trees, and long-lived. I think their acorns are the cutest of all; those furry little caps they wear are appealing as can be. They are big, though, and could do some real damage if they fall with enough force.

  39. As I was slip-sliding and crunching to my truck after work one day last week, I thought, “Decent mast crop this year.”

    The acorns at the office seem to be a mix of little round ones and long black ones.

    At home, the yard next door is just full of ’em. I cast a jaundiced eye that tree, as it is twinned, and I’m always afraid a heavy thunderstorm or tropical storm (I won’t say the “H” word) will cause it to split. Just like the twinned sweet gum down the street did a few years ago. The sweet gum just blocked off our street. The oak is going to hit his house, ours or the shoe store behind us. No ifs, ands or buts.

    Oh, gosh! That Bits & Pieces catalogue. I’d never seen that one before I got it in the mail a few weeks back. I had to get rid of that thing FAST. There were just way too many tempting objects in that catalogue that I thought I had to have and had absolutely no need for.

    1. I’ve seen some of those long acorns, but I can’t remember where. The ones I found were almost a deep, deep maroon; maybe they were on their way to being black. When I think of the number of toys we made from acorns, corn cobs, hollyhocks, and bits of wood, I don’t feel deprived; I’m delighted by the memories. Of course we had ‘store-bought’ toys, but our imaginations and problem-solving abilities were honed when we made our own.

      Just an hour or so ago, a tornado ripped through Dallas, and I suspect they have some tree damage up there. We’re almost to November 30. I hope The Season has consulted its calendar and knows that it’s time to go away. We more or less skated this year, even though the dunes and beachfront took a pounding from one of the storms. I can’t believe I don’t remember which one it was; I guess a girl can only pay attention to so many crises at a time.

      Bits and Pieces seems to be doing a good business — helped along by stay-at-home orders, no doubt. You know about Jigsaw Planet, don’t you? It’s kind of fun for those times when a little mindless amusement’s what’s needed.

  40. What a wonderful post, how well you wove the hardship around the falling acorns. It’s the same here, so many people are struggling and small businesses going under. I loved the Bur acorns, fascinating. Oak trees pop up everywhere in my gardens as the red squirrels keep burying them.xxx

    1. I’m really concerned about the fate of small businesses. Beyond that, increasing levels of hypocrisy on the part of elected leaders aren’t doing anything to encourage compliance with even reasonable advice. We’ve had a pretty strong dose of “do as I say, but not as I do” over here, and it’s not helpful.
      Still, some acorns will flourish, and Christmas is coming. With any luck at all, the next weeks will help to lift spirits a bit.

  41. Linda, this is a sad, thoughtful and spot-on post about the realities of life these days. Here in Michigan many businesses are struggling. (If our citizens would follow Covid guidelines like distancing and masks, our numbers would probably go down and things would return more quickly to normality but no, we are “free and you don’t tell me what to do.” And it slips in, one change at a time. I’ve been doing what I can to support those having trouble — for the first time I ordered dessert for TG to help support a struggling baker (who also happens to be my massage therapist, whom I haven’t been able to see since March.) And working artists who haven’t been able to do their usual shows and sales (like me!). I’m making more things for Christmas and many of us are cutting back on gifts this year. Other things too. But it’s just a drop in an ever growing tsunami.

    You are so right in how it begins as one falling and then others and the more that fall, the greater the wind, the more intense it becomes. I learned a lot in this post about acorns, which I adore. I collect them up north in the fall, use them to decorate till Thanksgiving is over and then they are given to my friend Bushy the Squirrel and Skippy the Chipmunk. I’ve never been in an acorn storm but I have been walking during a wind and been hit on the head more than once! So, yes, I can “feel” what you are saying as well as reading!

    1. I noticed that the ‘google doodle’ today was an acorn — how apropos! I don’t know what it is about them that’s so appealing, but they certainly are. It might be their rakish little caps. Their colors are nice, too, and they certainly are a typical symbol of autumn. Wild Birds Unlimited used to stock a huge, acorn-shaped hanging seed ‘ball.’ I suspect if I got one, the squirrels would have it eaten in a week. You’ve had an experience I’ve missed out on, though — being hit in the head with an acorn. When Mother Nature wants your attention, she doesn’t mess around!

      I hope your day was a good one. It looks like Saturday and Sunday are going to be cold but nice up there. Get out and get your sunshine before the snows come! We have lows in the 40s projected for early next week. Winter’s here at last.

      Have you built up enough of an online business to help make up for the loss of in-person sales? Some of our really large events, like the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market, were cancelled this year, but a lot of smaller towns are having their Christmas markets. Of course, we’ve been able to carry on outdoors because it’s been so warm and pleasant. What’s going to happen next week is a whole different story.

  42. What a wonderful piece to read. It is informative and entertaining yet insightful of the times which we live. I choose to be happy and thankful to be living and witnessing these times.

  43. This was such a wonderful read, Linda. I have never witnessed/heard an acorn storm (not that I can recall — I’ve certainly lived in places with oaks and acorns). How you got from acorns to politicians was beautifully done. Let’s hope some of them do take root and grow. Winter, I think, is going to be hard for a lot of people.

    1. If you had been in the neighborhood of an acorn storm, you certainly would remember it, Robin. I never experienced one in Iowa — another area with plenty of oaks. I suspect it’s somehow dependent on environmental cues that allow for a sudden drop of a tree’s entire crop. We see that sometimes with our cypress trees. Their needles turn rusty, and sometimes the trees will remain that way, fully leaved, until they all drop at once. I’ve left home for work in the morning with the trees still holding their leaves, and when I come home at lunch, every single tree has gone bare. It’s astonishing, to say the least, but the trees seem to know what they’re doing.

  44. “Ah, Liiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnndah,” as one might say here in Ecuador, your mastery of the word is such a treat. You open the door, invite us for a visit and captivate us from start until finish!

    I’ve never witnessed an acorn storm, but a mango falling on a tin roof is much like a shotgun being fired.

    You wean us from lighthearted observations of acorns to serious observations about our fellow man/woman, and at times I felt quite sad. ” An owner sells a boat here; a person quits a club there. A friend gives up her gym membership. A neighbor decides against lighted outdoor decorations for Christmas. ” You closing must have been emotional to write: “…autumn has come to America, and the acorns are falling. ”

    Powerful, Linda.

    1. I’ve said from time to time that words can be walls, or words can be windows. I suppose words can be doors, too, and I like to keep mine open, just in case someone wants to wander in. I’m glad to greet you, always.

      I hope your Thanksgiving was a peaceful one. There’s a lot of gratitude being expressed here even on this day after the formal day of giving thanks; we’re getting much-needed rain, and with luck will have enough to move us well away from drought conditions. The goldfinches have arrived, too, and a flock of chickadees has found the feeders; I suspect they’re equally grateful, in whatever way birds experience that.

      I suspect we’re going to have an extended period of tumult here. Those who lost in the presidential election aren’t ready to move on, and many who won are being remarkably nasty in their responses to those who opposed them. A little more graciousness in winning and losing would be good. Part of the problem is that the media, social and otherwise, seems to enjoy magnifying the nastiness. Given a hundred people of good will and one jerk, you know who they’ll focus on.

      Well, on we go. A reduction in the number of irrational and arbitrary restrictions would help, but in their absence, making considered, adult decisions is a good Plan B. We’ll see what happens!

  45. A wonderful post, Linda. I love the images as well.

    There are not so many oak trees in my surroundings and hence no storm of acorns :)
    Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. I’m pleased you enjoyed it, Rupali. I love nature, and often find it provides a way of understanding our human world, too. At the very least, it provides a way of talking about difficult issues. The poet Emily Dickinson once wrote, “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant/success in circuit lies.” I think she was right.

  46. I don’t think I have ever seen or heard a storm of falling acorns although I’ve certainly heard some random pings and have also been hit in the head with at least a few. Walking on seas on them I do recall well, in places all across the country, and I’ve always loved their appearance. I guess most of them have fallen in my absence!

    1. It makes sense to me that you wouldn’t have experienced an acorn storm — you’re always on the move! I can imagine the trees whispering to one another, “HEY! She’s here. Let’s get her!” Then, by the time they start shaking their branches, you’re five miles down the road or a thousand feet up the mountain! Some day you’ll get the chance, and I know you’ll enjoy it.

      I thought of you last week when I saw that the Target ‘store’ out at Alpine had been repainted and spiffed up for the holiday season. I’m still catching up, and have your road trip story waiting to be read. I’m hoping it’s a west Texas tale — maybe this will be the year I finally get out there.

      1. I had to laugh at your reasoning for my missing out on an acorn storm! Don’t rush to my road trip post; it was a weak attempt to get back to the blog (and a way for me to save the trip for my own memories) and not necessarily a prize for anyone else!

        I’m going to check out the Target paint job story; that trip still sticks in my head in so many good ways.

        1. I smiled at your phrase “a weak attempt to get back to the blog.” I’ve heard so many people say that their creativity seems to have gone into lockdown, too. I very nearly decided to quit blogging entirely. It seemed to be too much of a burden. Then I figured out that a whole lot of things have become burdensome recently; I took a deep breath, and got back at it. I also have plans now to hit the road myself next weekend — up to the hill country for a few days. I think it will be restorative.

          I hear the acorns are already down, as well as the persimmons, but there surely will be something to see.

  47. I enjoyed learning about acorns. Similarly to the wide variation from year to year in how many acorns are produced, our apple trees also vary widely in how many apples are produced. It’s partially based on the weather, but it also seem like they tend to produce apples every other year.

    1. I’ve read that fruit trees have those cycles. After a good, productive year, it’s as though they need a little rest to gather their strength. It does make sense that they’d mimic the behavior of oaks and other trees, since the acorns are fruits, too — not for us, but for a whole assortment of other critters.

  48. I enjoyed your post on acorns and the state of affairs in this country. I see a lot of frantic efforts to stay alive going on around here as well as early retirements and closing down businesses.

    I lived in the northeast during the Blizzard of ’78 and remember it well.

    1. I’m not sure exactly what I heard on radio yesterday, but it was some sort of advertisement for a newly formed group dedicated to promoting live music venues and performers. Little by little, more places are opening up. Of course, our weather allows for people remaining outdoors, and that helps. Also, despite Texas being described as a hotbed of cases, it depends so much on which counties you’re looking at. Some of the areas where I roam are averaging one to five new cases per day, which is comforting, to say the least.

      I suspect we remember hurricanes the way northeasterners remember blizzards. Freezes, too. During the Great Freeze of ’83, there was slush ice all across Galveston Bay. No one who saw that forgot it!

  49. A friend of mine told me about her friend who pledged a thousand dollars to a charity and then had to come up with a way to earn the money. She had an enormous amount of acorns on her property. She decided there must be someone somewhere who needed acorns for something. That led her to eBay where she posted acorns for sale. A pig farmer bought all that she could give him. Apparently, acorns give pork a unique nutty flavor. A happy ending for all concerned.

    1. That’s a genius idea your friend had. If I’d been smart, I might have gone to eBay to buy acorns for my squirrel when he still was alive, especially in our lean years. I learned just this year about the practice in England called pannage: releasing domestic pigs in a forest to feed on fallen acorns and other nuts. It seems that, historically, it was a privilege granted to local folks on common land or royal forests. Who knew? It does make sense that the acorns would give a different flavor. I know some deer hunters who swear that venison from acorn-fed deer is ‘sweeter’ than that from corn-fed. In any event, those acorns are a mighty handy food.

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