Wednesday, September 4, 2013


The acorns began dropping from the red oaks around our house in mid-August. Squirrels, high in the trees, shake the branches and the nuts fall to the ground. But they also fall on other surfaces—house rooftops, metal grills, car roofs, hot tubs, patio furniture, bird feeders, and...heads. I note the array of sounds they make: thwack, whack, and whap; ding and ping; bang and clang. Some are startling, sharp reports, like a rifle shot. Venturing out, I wear a cotton cap to cover my bald head, though a crash helmet would better suit the occasion.

My neighbor is very tidy. Every autumn I see her outside with a white plastic bucket, down on hands and knees, picking up acorns from her manicured lawn, one by one. When the bucket is full, she dumps it in the woods at the edge of her property. She has cut down most of her trees because they’re messy. Yet she cannot escape the acorns: they fall from our oaks onto her yard. It annoys her no end.

The Farmer’s Almanac reports that a heavy acorn drop foretells a snowy, hard winter. The jury is out, as it is still early in the season. And yet, even as a write, I hear them falling. Another neighbor walks gingerly across her driveway; acorns like ball bearings make her footing unsure. A nuisance to us, this harvest provides food for the squirrels and other creatures as they hunker down during leaner months. In the meantime, I look forward to cooler autumn days.  

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