Ping, pop, plop and crack.
Those are the sounds in the neighborhood this time of year as the live oak acorns fall.
I have to ignore things that go bump in the night these days, because the bump is from acorns hitting my wooden deck or dropping onto the metal bed of the pick-up truck next door. And then there are the squirrels.
They are sure part of the noise and the action. The squirrels are in constant motion gathering up every acorn they can for their winter treasure trove. At least one I know makes continuous rounds, climbing up the live oak out front, scrambling among the branches to find an acorn, leaping with a thud onto my deck, then off to find a perfect hiding place.
The fall nut drop also makes for prime entertainment for the neighborhood dogs that walk with their owners along the Feeder Road at the North End where I live. Most of the median is lined with live oaks and the usually mild mannered pups turn into avid squirrel hunters.
A walk comes to a standstill when one of the big game hunters stands immovable to point a squirrel scampering, say, across a telephone wire to drop down into a live oak tree. Or another will pull its person’s arm out of its socket as it dashes over to the base of an oak where a wily squirrel has just gone round out of sight to the other side of the tree. Fooled you, says he squirrel!
Some dogs eat the acorns this time of year too and their people aren’t too happy with it. I always say the dogs are following in the footsteps of their forebears, because Native Americans and early settlers cooked with flour from ground acorns.
Because they are forgetful, squirrels are good live oak farmers and we have little live oaks all over the neighborhood. If you live under a live oak, you will have more baby lives oaks than you care to see. They are so well rooted that they are hard to pull up.
Thanks in part to busy squirrels, our iconic Virginia Beach tree is alive and well wherever it is allowed to thrive.
After reading my last blog on persimmon fruits, Eddie Anderson owner of McDonald’s Garden Center. sent this wonderful photo he took of a persimmon tree in the dunes at First Landing State Park. Anderson said the persimmon grew close to the beach and the other trees–pines and live oaks–were another 50 years back from the water.
Do you have a favorite tree, a secret tree grove, or neighborhood climbing tree that you love. Let us know your stories about trees and the critters that call trees home.