Wednesday, September 22, 2010
In the woods this morning, acorns were raining down around me: thump . . . thump . . . thump. Under some trees the ground was already half covered with acorns, and it took me only a couple of minutes to fill my pockets with the collection pictured above. This astonishing bounty of fat and protein sustains the forest mammals through the winter, making possible the lives of deer, mice, squirrels, and all the things that feed on them. The trees produce this rain of food because some of the nuts will be buried by squirrels and then forgotten. Burial in loose soil is a huge advantage to the seed, so the trees make an enormous investment of energy in their nuts in the hope that one tenth of one percent of what they produce will end up in a forgotten squirrel cache.