Acorns in the grass

This isn’t really about anything explicitly post-ac, unless you count the fleeting reference to cover letters, but as it happened, I found myself thinking about it as I’d write it, so a day later, with the baby asleep and Professor Spouse and Older Daughter out on an errand, I’m writing it down. 

Oftentimes these days, my 15-month-old falls asleep in the car on the way home. Lately I’ve taken to bringing my computer with me when I think she’ll do this, so I can type crooked-handedly on the keyboard, trying to answer an email, post to Facebook, or in one case, finish a cover letter.

Yesterday, though, instead of poking on my phone or using my computer (which was far away inside the house, anyways), I slipped out of the car and sat down in the grass. Professor Spouse was inside, feeding our elder daughter lunch, and the baby seemed in a deep sleep. The day was warm, in the low-seveties Fahrenheit, with a light wind and generous sunshine.  We’d already had some early fall cool days, so I wanted to enjoy this moment of sunshine. I chose a spot in the sun where the grass didn’t look so wet, and sat down, half expecting to hear the cry of my daughter any minute. She didn’t cry, so I started to look at the acorns.

We are lucky enough to have our front yard, and the yards of our neighbors, graced by old maple and oak trees that have been cared for the college for a very long time, but no longer than a hundred-odd years. Every time I’m outside these days, I hear the “plonk” of an acorn as it falls off of a tree and hits a car.  Now, my car is not so nice that I worry about this at all, so I actually enjoy the funny sound. Who know that something as small as an acorn could make such a large “plonk”?  Or that squirrels, running up and down the trees gathering food for the winter, could make such loud chattering, squirrelly noises?

Every day, I hear the squirrels as they chatter, and the acorns as they fall, but I don’t usually take time to stop and look at the acorns. Sometimes my older daughter brings me acorns as presents, especially if they’re twin acorns still linked together, or more rarely and much more fun, a bouquet of three acorns still linked together. But I myself don’t spend that much time just looking at them.

With a few spare moments to sit in the grass, though, I started looking at acorns. I picked one up. It was green, and it had lost its little cap. Another one was brown.  Many were half-open, brown and mealy on the inside, as if the squirrels had already started their feast. I tried different caps on the acorns as I sat there, realizing how each acorn’s “hat” was uniquely suited to its own small head. I felt the warmth of the acorns, warm like the sunlight in which I sat. I’d never thought of acorns as being warm before. I felt their smooth skin and wondered what an acorn tasted like to a squirrel. It felt heavy in my hand, heavy enough to “plonk” as it fell on to the roof or hood of a car.

I remembered moments spent like this as a child, looking a single rock and feeling its warmth, or its coolness, or how sometimes, I’d lie down in the grass and shape it back into a little half-egg shaped hole, and marvel at the insects scurrying about. I’ve always loved nature, taken note of it, but I realized that I usually go for the big, pretty picture these days — a field of wildflowers in a forest preserve, a sunset over the tops of the buildings around me. It was strangely refreshing to pick this quiet moment when the baby slept, the computer was away, my phone wasn’t even buzzing or beeping, to just look closely at something and see it in a new light.

Eventually, though, my stomach rumbled and I picked up my phone, texted Professor Spouse, and we switched shifts. I went inside to have my lunch, the acorn lying where I’d found it in the grass, and he came outside to take over watching for our baby’s wakings.

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