David Lauderdale

Lauderdale: What's with the Lowcountry's acorn blizzard this year?

What's up with all these acorns this year?

We have 2 to 3 inches of fresh-fallen acorns in the yard, with drifts up to a foot.

Walking here has turned into a slippery dance. Now we know what Michael Jackson was doing -- he was gliding on acorns.

I'm going to invest in a new business: acorn helmets.

When I walk the dogs, I hear acorns crunching under foot and flying through the night air, slapping saw palmetto fronds and popping off wooden decks with such a clamor you'd think they were the size of cantaloupes. Inside, it sounds like we live on the Parris Island firing range.

The dogs think the acorn bonanza is an answer to prayer. They're gobbling them up like bubblegum.

People tell me not to try that.

Amarien Baldwin, a good Lowcountry girl, responded to my question about Acorn-O-Rama on Facebook with this: "Acorns and hickory nuts are like kale. People may not die from them, but they are nasty. We all tried them as kids. Once."

But Sonny Bishop of St. Helena Island found an NPR report headlined, "Nutritious acorns don't have to just be snacks for squirrels."

Getting at the meat involves bricks, rocks, hammers, grinding, leaching, drying and baking -- all of which I've tried against squirrels, not nuts.

If our bumper crop of acorns is good for anything, maybe it will cause some squirrels, nay entire squirrel families, to explode.

A friend with too much time on his hands sent me the results of this Google search: "acorns falling winter."

What it shows is that most well-educated Americans, or at least Southerners, think that a large crop of acorns means we're in for a cold winter.

But before you do anything rash, like rush out and buy a long-sleeve shirt, think about some of the other true scientific facts we heard growing up.

My granny from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia believed there would be a snow in winter for every fog in August. She recorded the fogs on her kitchen calendar.

But Granny believed lots of odd things. When you didn't eat enough to suit her, she said, "I bet your stomach thinks your throat's cut."

A better reigning theory is that the acorn crop is not about future weather, but past weather. And recent rains are supposed to be the smoking gun.

But Sonny Bishop, who harvests and sells hundreds of pounds of pecans on the little slice of heaven he wrote about in his book "A Place Called Home," says to hold the umbrellas and snow boots.

He talks about male catkins and female blossoms -- on trees, mind you.

"Nature decided to separate the timing to ensure cross pollination for genetic strength, and this -- coupled with the other variables like temperatures, daylight hours, rainfall and disease like molds -- creates a changing environment that makes a good season nearly a miracle," he said on Facebook.

Put that in your oak pipe and smoke it. And do your own acorn research. You'll find that scholars are more likely to explain the behavior of a squirrel than an acorn.

So skate through life like a blind pig. But don't forget your acorn helmet.

Follow columnist and senior editor David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale and facebook.com/david.lauderdale.16.

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