The last week or so, it seems that there are an awful lot of acorns laying on the trail. And a lot of them falling on my head. It almost makes me want to wear a hat…but not quite, cause I hate hats! I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to the acorns before. Maybe I notice this year because of running in minimalist shoes. Running on the acorns doesn’t really hurt, but it feels different than running on dirt, rocks, or roots.
I did some reading, and it seems that the size of this year’s acorn crop has to do with last year’s weather. Trees start planning in July or August for the following year’s crop of acorns. Last summer we had plenty of rain, so this year there are lots of acorns. So I guess that means that this year’s dry summer will make for a small acorn crop next year. That will make the top of my head happier next fall 🙂
This also makes for lots of ticks. (Well, it’s actually a little more complicated than that). The fall of 2010 was a great year for acorns, so also a great year for white-footed mice. Many mice for food, means many ticks grow. Then in 2011, there were very few acorns, so the mice died off, leaving lots of hungry ticks. So in spring and summer of 2012, all those hungry ticks are biting people. Now, if I’m not imagining things, and there really are a lot of acorns this year, does that mean there may be lots of ticks again in 2014? Because this summer was so dry and dusty that next year’s acorn crop will be small, and the mice will again die off leave predator ticks behind. This is sort of like looking at the stars, and trying to imagine the universe…too much info!
This was supposedly a big year for ticks. I know that Eric and Seth both came in from the woods with ticks more than once. But Seth refuses to wear bug spray, and Eric sits in the middle of the trail to take pictures, so I’m not sure if either of them is a good indicator. And I got no ticks, but I’m not a good indicator either, because something about my body chemistry doesn’t invite bug bites, even when not wearing DEET. (But I wear DEET anyway, because why take chances!!)
But that brings me back to the acorns. Old folklore suggests that a big acorn crop means a bad winter. I hope not. It’s terrible to have to run on the road if the winter is too snowy for trails. And small acorn crop in 2011, led to very mild winter last year (which was wonderful 🙂 !!!!!). But, the scientists say the acorn crop is a product of past weather, and not a predictor of the future. So I guess I will just keep running, and just deny that winter is coming. Only 268 more days till it’s summer again!!!!