July 31. It’s 7 AM and acorns are pelting my car, which is parked in the driveway near the open window where I sit writing. A sunny summer day has dawned, with temperatures forecast in the eighties. But, with every rustle of leaves followed by a loud pong, I sense a cold winter coming. The acorns hitting the hull of my green kayak — lashed face down on top of my car’s roof rack, its summer home — create a reverberating sound like the beating of a drum. Some of the falling nuts miss the kayak and crash down directly onto the car’s metal roof and hood. Ouch, I wince — future body work will be expensive.
The old oak tree spreads grandly over the driveway. Usually it is not raining acorns. Right now the tree looks innocent and shady, full of green leaves, sparkling near the top with morning sunshine. It’s not even August yet.
In Thoreau’s nature study On the Dispersion of Seeds (1860), he writes at length about all the work done by squirrels to propagate oak trees in forests once dominated by pines, and how we should appreciate — not complain about — them. “We should be more civilized as well as humane,” he says, “if we recognized once in a year by some symbolical ceremony the part which the squirrel plays in the economy of Nature.”
Take care, little squirrels. I hereby recognize you. Gather your nuts. Fatten yourselves for long nights and mounds of snow. Just please stop dropping acorns onto my car.