It’s Acorn Season! That time of year when it sounds like you live on a gravel road whenever a car drives up the street. You could go out and gather a truck load of acorns to harvest the nuts and grind them into acorn flour. Sure, it’s an old-fashioned thing to do. It would be easier by far to drive your car up and down the driveway until there’s enough acorn dust to sweep into your flour bin and then get to making those acorn muffins you’ve been craving. That seems a more modern, practical method to me.
Besides the joy of harvesting, there’s the potential danger of serious injury during acorn season. They tend to fall on your head during windy weather as you pass under your neighbor’s oak tree. It’s more of an indignant surprise than an actual injury, though. I always look around to see if any of my nearby neighbors have caught me screaming and slapping my body to rid myself of these evil falling acorns. The real risk actually comes from our neighborhood walnut trees. Walnut pods look like smallish, hard tennis balls and pack a mean punch. I’m fairly certain people have gotten head injuries from falling walnuts. I’ve even heard stories of cracked windshields. I could do some research with the quick clinics and car repair facilities in the area to find out which is most prevalent, but I’m afraid the people manning the desks would call me crazy and send me back out into a hailstorm of falling nuts.
My dog seems enamored of acorn shells. We catch her chewing on them, making a sound equivalent to nails on a blackboard. We go into emergency “get it out of the dog’s mouth before she chokes on it” mode by first demanding that she drop it. When has that ever worked? She’s got it, we want it, so it must be a treasure beyond compare. No treat can coax it from her mouth. But we are as determined to get the potential puppy killer out as she is on keeping it in to gnaw on for hours. A nasty scuffle ensues in the form of grabbing her snout, prying open her jaw and reaching a hand down into the maw, at great risk to dog and human. Mostly to human. The amount of slobber one little part-beagle can manufacture in the name of obstinance is astounding. Even if we can get our fingers on the offending object, it slips away like a baby seal. I swear there’s a cunning look in that dog’s eyes right before she swallows the thing–sucks it away from our slimy fingers by the action of her determined throat, never to be seen again. Well, not for a while anyway.
In addition to head injuries and potential dog-killing ingestions, whole, intact acorns amass in hazardous piles along the street and seem to settle right at the foot of our stairs just where we step from our yard into the street. I’ve considered placing a danger sign in that spot. They roll. They have little magnets that attract the soles of your shoes and just at the moment of contact, they roll and take your shoe along for the ride. This is probably known as a primitive form of roller skating . Anthropologists may be able to answer any questions you have about the sport’s origins, but I’m pretty sure this is it.
We live on a hill, so all the perfectly intact acorns, having recently fallen from the mama trees, tend to roll downhill until they find a nice set of stairs, to settle in a small community. Neighbors have been out with their incredibly loud yard blowing equipment, forcing the little buggers from in front of their stairs, driveways and other entry points into their yards. This puts a lot of pressure on the more lazy homeowners who surround them. You can see who these lazy ones are by driving down the street. Tidy blowers live there! Lazy bastards live there. Need I inform you which ones live in the Hobbit House? We call it going with the flow, as nature intended, hate those noisy, blowy things. We finally capitulated before the tar and pitchforks came out–or we were sued by unintended roller bladers.
My husband got out a broom and dust pan and swept the solid nuggets away. The flour residue blew around in the breeze and settled back down in the street. Truthfully, we could have done this clean up every day for a week and still have had a swarm of tiny brown devils goading us from the bottom of our stairway. The wind appears to be their ally, charging through the neighborhood oak trees and causing an avalanche of terror. The barrage of acorns pinging on rooftops, cars and street is enough to make us all duck for cover. Then cars drive over them, crunching their shells and making craggy bits my dog can’t resist.
This afternoon, a large vehicle came rumbling through the hood. I looked out the front window to see what could be making this amount of noise. Our narrow streets usually keep big trucks from wandering through unless someone is repaving their driveway or the electric company is replacing utility poles. This particular truck is called a street sweeper, and I am always surprised whenever one comes trundling down our road. It moved along the curb, spraying a bit of water, dropping its round, rotating brush and scooping up debris from the curbs. A little warning would have been nice so that folks could move their cars out of the way. My side of the street, in front of my little mountain casita, was thoroughly washed, cleansed by the government bureaucrats who probably skated one time too many in their own neighborhoods. Someone, somewhere dispatched a government-paid, super-sized leaf blower to ease our burden and make America safe from acorns.
I predict our street will look much the same as it did before the big, sweeping truck came through…in about a week at most. Since we had a short cold blast, all the leaves are doing their customary coloring and falling thing and those acorns will soon be covered up by pretty red and yellow leaves, which will eventually turn brown. I call this phase of autumn Surprise Acorn Season, since we can no longer see them under the pile of leaves. We then are led back to being scorned for not performing the obligatory blowing and scraping of the street in front of our house. I’ll feel compelled to call the proper authorities to request the sweeper make another round to keep the debris from clogging the drainage system and keep us in good standing with our anti-roller-skating neighbors.
It’s a tough season to get through, but a few backyard bonfires with neighbors and friends will more than make up for it. Time for pumpkin-spiced everything and some good old-fashioned chili to stoke the inner flames as we watch the acorns fall into our firepit and burn like sacrificial lambs to keep the frost at bay for just a few more weeks.
Happy unintended skating, where ever you may be,