Mack Williams: Nuts about acorns

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2023

Some time ago, while walking the trail in a local park, a late-falling acorn hit the top of my head. I wasn’t wearing a hat; and I wish I had been wearing my repro-World War I Doughboy helmet when I encountered that oak “shrapnel!”
Just weeks before then, the acorns seemed to be falling like rain! It was as if this one acorn had waited especially for my path to coincide with its fall!
At that previous time of their late autumn “shower,” those “tree kernels” fell through layers of leaves like tiny meteorites; except being round and with much less mass, they bounced and rolled when hitting the ground (whatever their size, meteorites never bounce and roll).
Pausing at a park bench after that “head thump” through my thin cap, the analogy of Sir Isaac Newton came to mind (but my part was only the analogy; his part was the original).
Having built up a sweat, I removed my cap. And “amazingly,” the dozens of acorns lying on the ground before me had already “respectfully” removed theirs.
I thought about a church friend of mine who almost had a mishap when walking across a scattering of acorns on a walkway. The way she described the incident made me think of those ladies on the old “Roller Derby” TV show!
A car drove by while I rested; and the sound of acorns being crushed under a couple tons of metal sounded amazingly like popcorn in the microwave!
Another church friend had told me that the sound of acorns being “run over” made him think of the child’s firework “Snap N Pops!”
Up and walking again, on the asphalt drive/walkway I saw what looked like squashed-flat “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!” Looking closer I saw them to be the crushed brown shells of the acorns with their yellow insides flattened and spread into what I would call “acorn butter!”
I paused at another park bench, and heard a crunching noise behind me. I didn’t need to turn around and look, for I figured from the “acoustics” of the sound that it was a squirrel!
A couple of years ago, when there was a failure of the “acorn crop” in the mountains, a couple of bears had showed up in the city, having followed the course of the river to “greener acorn pastures!”
But this year, there had been an abundant acorn fall in the mountains as well.
So I sat, thinking of my quasi-scientific figuring of the size of teeth and skull required to make those munching noises I was hearing behind me.
And hoping I was correct.

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