October means the oak trees are going nuts

Friends of the Lincoln Library column
By: By Jane Tahti Special to The News Messenger
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You’d think it was Christmas Eve. 

Tip tap. 

Pitter pat. 

Reindeer hooves pattering across the roof. 

But no.  It’s October, not December and it’s just acorns bouncing off the roof. 

The oak trees are going nuts. 

And yes, acorns are actually nuts.  Just ask any squirrel.

Some of the oak trees around my house have been around for a century or two.  They were here before rain and snow and wind became big news. Oak trees don’t watch the weather channel on TV.  They don’t Google up national weather reports or read drought headlines. 

They don’t have to. They already know. 

Starting in late summer, and still pelting down, the acorns have been falling by the thousands.

My sidewalks and paths are covered with a rolling nubby carpet of acorns.  Black, brown, shiny, dull, split or perfectly intact. 

Down at the creek, it looks like invisible fishermen are casting out invisible lures and bobbers: Plunk, plunk, plunk. Acorns are falling, like little brown torpedoes run amuck. 

It  seems like the oak trees know they’re facing a challenge and are gearing up for future generations.

But wait!  The botanists say, “No.”   



They’re telling us that the oak trees don’t know what’s going on?   Botanists already have a word for a bumper crop of acorns: mast.    But a big mast year doesn’t have anything to do with years of drought? 


Jacquelyn and I, two old-time botanists, have been comparing our nutty notes, that is to say, our acorn notes. 

After two or three glasses of wine, we both agree that the last time this happened was about 15 years ago.  After factoring in the wine, let’s say 10 or 20 years ago. 

Yes, we both agree. This is a mega, mega, mega mast year. 

We have scientific proof: Even without the wine, Jacquelyn can hardly walk on her porch without rolling off the edge on a bunch of ball-bearing acorns. 

Meanwhile, back at my place, I decide to find out how many acorns a normal-sized oak tree has dropped this year. I set my glass of wine down, make a three foot by three foot outline and start counting out one square yard’s worth of acorns.  

I keep having to start over, because most of those acorns look alike and – sip – they’re getting kind of hard to count. 

But finally! 


A big gulp! 161 acorns in one square yard!

 With my high school geometry skills, I start the process of measuring out how many square yards there are within the – uh – circumference of the sip line – uh, make that the drip line – of the oak canopy.  

Now I need to – uh – factor in the number of – uh – square yards and then multiply that by – uh – the 161 acorns and – uh – where did I put my wine glass?

Another few sips and then I’ve got the answer.  Whether the botanists believe it or not, the oak trees know what they’re doing. 

I hope so. 

I live right under a bunch of them.

Meanwhile, if I sit here long enough, I’ll bet an acorn will fall right into the middle of my glass of wine.

At the Twelve Bridges Library

Free Family Story Time:  3:30 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays. Includes stories and songs for all ages.

Free Mother Goose on the Loose: 10:30 or 11:30 a.m. Thursdays for kids.

Events are sponsored by Friends of the Lincoln Library.  Wheelchairs and handicapped access are available. The Twelve Bridges Library is at 485 Twelve Bridges Drive in Lincoln.

This column is part of a Friends of the Lincoln Library series. To reach the nonprofit Friends, write to Box 1177, Lincoln CA 95648, contact 434-2404 or Jane Tahti is the Friends of the Lincoln Library secretary.