During lunch with my friend Carol yesterday, we got to talking about ALL the acorns that are falling, how big they are, and also how dangerous they can be to someone who is sometimes not steady on her feet. We had both heard that a big acorn drop meant it was going to be a tough winter, but Carol had heard that the weather forecasters were predicting a fairly mild winter. We agreed that maybe the Farmer's Almanac might be able to tell us more, so this morning I decided to do the research.
The Farmer's Almanac online only gives a two month prediction (you have to buy the book to get the full year). They are certainly predicting a cold and wet October and November for the Southwest, but that didn't answer all of my question, so I continued to look further.
Basically, I learned that acorns and their gatherers are not particularly good weather prognosticators. The reason seems to be two-fold. One site explained that "only factors like certain ocean current temperature changes in parts of the mighty Pacific seem to be reliable predictors of what some regions' general weather will be like months in the future."
Another site explained that "acorn production varies from year to year as an evolutionary strategy. Rather than cranking out the most acorns possible in each year, trees tend to save up some energy to send out a big burst every three to five years in what ecologists call a 'mast year.' The idea is simple: Drop more acorns than all of the squirrels, chipmunks, deer, turkeys and blue jays can gobble up." This site also reported that the acorns falling right now were produced as a result of pollination a year ago, which means that the trees would have to forecast weather two years in advance and also communicate with the bees or whoever their pollinators are.
So the acorns aren't foretelling a winter tale with their abundance. But they led to a potential tale around here. To protect Cindy and I from falling, I started picking up the acorns on the walkway to and from the car and throwing them in bucket, and then I got this bright idea to collect bucketfuls and broadcast them along the edge of the meadow across the street. If you drive by this spot 20 years from now, there may be a some new oaks growing beside the meadow. Since I may or may not be around to witness the success of this effort, I hope you'll sit under one of those trees for a time and remember me.