It's almost fall...I'm not a huge fan of this season although I know that many of you are. As much as I love wearing Uggs, Steeler football, and baking apple pies, fall brings one of the greatest annoyances in my life...ACORNS. Sounds crazy I'm sure, but if you've ever been to our house this time of year you know why I hate acorns so much. My house is literally under attack 24 hours a day from falling acorns...and here's the culprit: Note: I put a standard-sized garden gnome next to it so that you could realize the size of the tree...and then I thought....who knows how big a "standard-sized garden gnome is" lol. Whatever...the picture was already uploaded. You get the point.
Let's back up a few decades to when I was a kid...as many of you may know I grew up in this house my entire life. I have many great memories that include an awesome tire swing, jumping in HUGE piles of leaves, and filling buckets with acorns by picking them up one by one. Wait, is that last one a great memory?? Oh I know why I remember it so well...my dad used to pay my sisters and I a penny per acorn that we could collect. Come to think of it I'm positive that he never counted them and I'm pretty sure that my sisters stole my share of the $ anyway. Sneaky parents. Nonetheless....this giant beautful oak tree in our backyard has given me so many fun memories to cherish. We have always had families upon families of cute little squirrels that have lived amongst it's branches, it's been a home to cardinals and blue jays every spring, and the acorns have been a source of food to so many beautiful deer in our neighborhood.
Fast forward to 2011....this. tree. is. on. my. last. nerve. The roots are so huge...we've had to add many yards of soil to our yard each spring just to attempt to cover them and grow grass again. Every attempt = fail. Those lovely deer that live in our backyard for the constant food supply do not back down to our dog anymore...so we can't leave Layla outside for the fear of them ganging up on her or giving her fleas and ticks. The leaves clog the gutters, the birds fight with eachother, the squirrels dig holes, and the acorns....ohhhh....the ACORNS. I'm not exxagerating when I say that some of these things are the size of golf-balls. When a strong wind blows through the oack tree, the back of our house and our deck get pelted with acorns. It's so loud and it's somewhat scary. Sometimes they hit the windows and I'm convinved that some little squirrel is throwing them at us. My in-laws babysat for us one evening last October and they thought that someone was shooting at our house. We have an annual outdoor pumpkin carving party for all of our neices and nephews...we jokingly said that the kids should wear helmets. It's really not a bad idea to be honest. Not only do the acorns attack us by air but once they've landed on the ground it's a whole new type of attack...we can't even walk on the grass....we roll like we're wearing roller skates. Poor poor Rob rakes them up and then shovels them into lawn bags. The bags weigh at least 95 pounds and there's usually at least 5 bags of just acorns! Plus all of the leaves! Again....this tree is just driving me nuts (no pun intended).
Last year I tried to embrace the fall and even the acorns, too. I collected a couple hundred of them that had their cute little hats still attached and filled large vases to display on my mantle. They really were beautiful and a gorgeous fall decoration I must say. Until a week later when I was showing them off to my mom and dad and noticed tiny little worms crawling all through the vases! Gross!!! The attacking acorns had infiltrated my house!!! So I gave up...and we went back to really hating that tree.
Just this month the acorns have begun to fall again in full force since it's been so dry here in PA. We had to hang Mia's new swing in the front yard to keep her fragile little head safe from the acorns, Layla has completely surrendered and the deer have taken ownership of the yard, and the squirrels sit on our patio table and eat the acorns ... so not to make the mess of the fallen shells in their own home...but to drive Layla crazy at the sliding glass door and so I can clean up after them at each meal and snacktime.
This week I got a little bit sad. I really don't want to hate this tree anymore. I want to get back to that place where I think it's a strong and beautiful fixture of this home. I want Mia to have good memories of it, too. I sorted through the huge lawn bags of acorns before garbage night this week (I probably looked like a total lunatic) and collected a couple hundred acorns and "hats". I did a little research and learned how to dry the acorns and kill all of the bugs and germs...and then I went to work. I had these mirrors that I bought at Ikea years ago just lying around...so I got out the hot glue gun and got a little crafty. After finishing two mirrors I even have enough acorns leftover to fill some vases for the mantle :)
I have a new appreciation for my aging tree. I've realized that although it won't create the same memories for Mia, she will have brand new ones that are hers and hers alone. She'll always remember that we made everyone wear helmets at the pumpkin carving party starting in 2011. She and I will make some new "acorn art" each autumn season. And I may even bring back that classic tradition of paying her a penny per each acorn that she can collect. My dad can front the money.
After a lot of discussions with friends and family about new homes and new housing plans lately... it's got me thinking that I have a renewed love for my home and all of the memories and experiences that have been created here. You just can't buy things like that. As for the deer and the squirrels and the birds and the chipmunks and the racoons and even the skunks...I'm embracing that my backyard is home to them, and that they are happy here, too :)