As I lie in bed, in the dark with the windows wide open, I listen to the night sounds. Insects hum, bats creak, and toads croak. A sound through the trees makes me wonder who is moving through the woods, but then I hear a loud plop and realize that acorns are dropping through the trees. The next day I decide to work out on the deck. By day, the sound of acorns falling from great heights is similar to the sound of a large rock falling from a cliff. If you have ever been under an oak when an acorn has fallen, it feels like a rock has hit you on the head. This has been a banner year for acorns in the NE, and I got to thinking about this abundance and what it means for the tree. Now, this story isn’t really about oak trees or acorns, but rather, these musings are about growth, change, and letting go.
Every living being has a drive to make more of their species. It is survival for some and choice for others (of course, there are always exceptions). I recently learned that once conditions are right for a tree, the tree will produce seeds. If conditions are really right, the tree will produce an abundance of seeds. When one tree produces abundantly, all the trees will do the same. Knowledge of conditions is shared amongst all the species of trees that abundance is the way to go for survival. Go with gusto. Producing that many seeds or acorns takes a tremendous amount of energy from the tree. It is likely that fewer acorns will be produced next year as the tree rests and works to regain energy. Having human children takes a toll on parents too. As a baby is created, the mother’s body produces all the food, nutrients, and cells necessary to create a baby. Hormones go wild, food intake increases, and exhaustion prevails. For adoptive parents, the nutrient expenditure is spent on paper filing and home visits. Will a child bless their home? Whether biological or adoptive, emotions run high, doubts creep in, and time both slows down and speeds up. Everything takes abundant energy.
Once an acorn is birthed it is up to the plant inside to determine whether it fell where growth is possible. Sometimes an acorn is carried away and buried in another spot. The acorn may release its plant or it may wait for another more opportune time. The acorn cracks as the plant pushes its growth tendril upward and sends its roots downward. Growth happens quickly. The tiny oaks within the acorns are born knowing how to grow and survive. Human babies take more time to develop. They know how to grow, but babies have to learn how to survive. Whereas acorns are supplied all the initial food that a young plant needs, human babies require outside assistance from mom or a bottle. Like acorns, growth spurts happen seemingly overnight. Unlike acorns, babies need to observe and practice various skills as their brains and bodies develop. This can take years to happen.
When an oak tree births acorns, the tree sends all of the knowledge they possess to assist the new plant. Food is sent for the journey. Once an acorn is birthed it is up to the little plant inside the acorn to make it or not. Circumstance can play a huge part in the choices available to a young oak tree. The same can be said of human babies. They don’t get to pick their address, parents, or environment. It takes years for a human baby to grow, learn, and experience in order to be ready to move on. Then that day happens, the one where the parents say good-bye and send their offspring on their way. Parents hope that they have taught their children well. They hope their children can feed, clothe, and enjoy their own lives. Grown children and young oaks share the ability to ask their families for help when needed. Acorns can send out messages for food, nutrients, and water via the mycelia highway or air waves. Shared nutrients return via the mycelia highway. Human children can ask for help via phones and texting. Parents show up or send help. Whether oak tree or human parent, both want to see their children succeed.
So, I sit out on the deck or lie in bed and listen to the acorns fall. Will they go far? Will they call? Will they grow mighty? I hope so. Inquiring parents want to know.