This morning I took a handful of pictures of the gathered acorns along a Newton curb and storm sewer: a river of acorns that has puddled from an ongoing torrent from overhead branches. This year’s bumper crop of New England acorns has been reported in the news and on the blogs, and it’s a phenomenon I’ve already Twittered twice. Whenever I drive into J’s driveway, I hear the snap-crackle-popping of crushed acorns under my tires, and whenever I walk Reggie around the block, we watch our step, careful not to roll and stumble over marble-like nuts underfoot.
This year’s over-abundance of acorns has everyone talking. The neighborhood mail carrier Reggie I see pushing her mail cart from door to door most mornings remarked about them today, predicting a bad winter given the number of nuts underfoot. I don’t know if trees “know” what the meteorological future holds, but their insentient guesses are probably as good as anyone’s.
I do know we had an abnormally rainy June here in New England, and I don’t know what sort of effect that has on the life cycle of oak trees. An abundance of autumnal acorns, in other words, might say more about this past summer’s weather than it does about the coming winter. Still, whatever the winter has in store, the squirrels and chipmunks will be well-fed, at least if their autumn hoarding has keep up with a healthy supply of rodent-food.
It’s also the season for the prickled seeds known as beggar’s ticks, which I can’t pull off quickly enough to keep Reggie seed-free. No sooner than I detach one clinging cluster of flat, microscopically hooked seeds than I find another and another…and by the time I’ve de-seeded the dog from one walk, it’s time to take another. There seems to be no end in the supply of beggar’s ticks, with each year offering another bumper crop. Whereas an over-abundance of acorns gets swept by autumn rains and homeowners’ garden hoses toward gutters and storm sewers, beggar’s ticks arrive inside suburban houses, smuggled in the nestling warmth of dog and cat fur.
It’s a lush and fruitful world out there, even as Nature is closing up shop for the season. Trees are tucking the last of their summer sugars into roots and fruits, and squirrels and dogs alike are helping to disperse plant seeds, wittingly or not. Fall is, after all, a time to cast off leaves and fruit in mind-boggling abundance–nature’s dumping time, the season when cast-offs get carried and squirreled away, stored against the coming season of want.
Click here for this morning’s handful of acorn images. Enjoy!