The calendar tells us summer has come and gone, but warm weather has moved in, and since we had a patchy frost almost two weeks ago, it feels as if this is Indian summer. It’s a reprieve before more persistent chilly weather sets in, and hopefully this fall we will enjoy several periods of these delightful and virtually perfect days.
It’s such a great time to be outside enjoying the day and watching critters as they prepare for winter. Some birds and butterflies have begun their migrations south, and certain Red Oaks in my yard are dropping the first good crop of red oak acorns in several years. It’s bound to make the squirrels fat and happy, as well as the deer and wild turkeys.
Those chubby acorns also make me happy. A couple days ago, I collected Red Oak acorns to grow a crop of native trees. These were the nicest acorns I can ever remember collecting for propagation. This year 98% to 99% of the acorns I picked up were fat, heavy and free of weevils. Almost every acorn will be capable of producing a tree and germination will begin over the winter.
To germinate properly Red Oak acorns need to experience chilly temperatures for 60-90 days. Once this chilling has taken place, internal changes begin that slowly result in the swelling and splitting of the acorn, and the emergence of a root shoot that senses gravity, and heads down into the soil of the forest floor, or into the potting mix filling the special air root pruning pots I use to propagate container trees with first rate root systems.
Every time that I see an acorn sprouting it stimulates my sense of wonder. It’s like being a child again, when the whole world is waiting to be discovered, and every discovery is wonderful and exciting.
It’s a wonder to think that the sprouting acorn can become a towering tree that provides cooling shade, nesting sites, food for the wildlife and eventually timber to build furniture and houses It’s a joy to nurture an acorn until it’s a tree large enough to catch the eye of a customer who in turn places it into a special place in their garden until a few years later their child or grandchild picks up a chubby acorn with a sense of wonder and a passion for discovery, and begins the cycle of life once again.
Life is rich and wonder filled when we are discovering new things, new ideas and learning how to open our eyes to all the beauty that surrounds us. It’s the dynamic that makes gardening the most popular hobby in this country.
Whether a garden lover lives in Maine or New Mexico, Minnesota or Florida, a few steps into the garden takes us to a place of continual discovery and wonder. It reconnects us to the sense of wonder we experienced in childhood.
Indian summer days are some of my most favorite times to be out in the well-tended landscapes or on wilderness lakes and trails blazing with red, orange and gold fall colors. It’s a fine time to discover beautiful places, things, and people, to allow ourselves to give free rein to our sense of wonder, and to give thanks for all we have and are able to experience.
Thanks for taking this little journey of the pen with me and enjoy your Indian summer day of wonder!