An article in today's Washington Post, Acorn Watchers Wonder What Happened to Crop reports that in many parts of America, the acorns are gone and squirrells are acting as though they are starving. The article starts,
Sure enough, I haven't seen any acorns in the suburban and rural environs of Pennsylvania where I go. How about you? Seeing any acorns under foot on your scurrying through the woods?
"The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn't find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. Then he went out to look for himself. He came up with nothing. Nothing crunched underfoot. Nothing hit him on the head.
Then calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill.
But Simmons really got spooked when he was teaching a class on identifying oak and hickory trees late last month. For 2 1/2 miles, Simmons and other naturalists hiked through Northern Virginia oak and hickory forests. They sifted through leaves on the ground, dug in the dirt and peered into the tree canopies. Nothing.
"I'm used to seeing so many acorns around and out in the field, it's something I just didn't believe," he said. "But this is not just not a good year for oaks. It's a zero year. There's zero production. I've never seen anything like this before.""
Now, during the recent presidential election, the GOP, with the help of FOX news and related right wing echo chamber facilitators, attempted to eradicate the organization A.C.O.R.N., which was working hard at Get Out The Vote (GOTV) activities all around the nation. If those ACORNs had disappeared, we would have had a reasonable explanation.
Fortunately, oak trees live hundreds of years and a year without acorns is not necessarily a disaster. Apparently, in southern parts of the country, the oaks ARE dropping acorns, as one hunting article published in Georgia reports, advising that locations where healthy acorns are on the ground make for good deer hunting. Also, in Florida, one paper reports, "Large acorn and nut crop due to dry weather."
And sure enough, in the WaPo article, one expert speculates that the reason for the absence of acorns in the area this year may be due to the fact that when the oaks released their pollen, there was six times the normal level of rain. Hopefully, next year, the acorns will return, the squirrells will no longer be hungry.
Of course, a conservative blogger at the National Review observes that, of course, in the WaPo article, there is speculation that global warming is involved.
Note that this article has done no such thing, though we could also theorize that the oak trees, sturdy things of great integrity, both metaphoric and biologic, that they are, may have just decided they'd had enough of the excess of right wing neanderthals in the area and finally just decided to refuse to produce more acorns. Hopefully, if this far-fetched theory is the case, the Oaks will judge Obama and his people more kindly and start to feed the squirrels again next year. We won't deal with the potential to treat acorns and squirrels as benchmark and congressional "pork" metaphors. We'll leave that to the National Review.