Our oak is naked right now. Twiggy, brown, and bare. A few dry leaves hang on from last year, and at any place in the oak’s crown, it looks like you could snap a branch in half. I know it’s alive in there, but it’s hard to remember that this time of year. The stripped branches look bleak.
When the kids were toddlers, our favorite thing to do as we waited for summer to turn to fall was to walk every day and look for acorns. We lived in Florida at the time, and by September we were desperate for the sweltering heat of summer to end. When acorns started appearing on the sidewalk — one or two nuts at first, then in such large numbers we couldn’t take a step without crushing acorns underfoot — we knew autumn was finally on its way.
Acorns mean pumpkins, mums, ruby and citrine leaves. More importantly, they mean crisp air and chilly autumn winds.
Now that we live in Virginia, it is the transition from winter to spring that we wait for. In March, the are no acorns on the ground. Squirrels have hidden them all away, or eaten them. In early March, there is no ruby or citrine. There are only grey-brown wood and papery brown leaves.
We had a bit of snow yesterday, but the forecast for next week is warm: a tease that spring is coming. The warm days of March are like the acorns of September.
Maybe by week’s end, those bare brittle branches the oak stretches towards our porch will start greening. Maybe, after a few days of sunshine and thawing temperatures, we will see plump, yellow-green leaf buds appear.
We can hope.