No, this isn’t a forgotten squirrel stash…
it’s my secret ammo store so I can get back in action during the next skirmish.
Then came fall and the annual rain of acorns. For the life of me I can’t remember who threw the first “oak nut” as my cousin once called them. Perhaps it was dad just being funny and pegging one of us in the back. Maybe one of us got mad at the other and chucked the first thing that was handy but wouldn’t kill the person we were irked at. Whatever the inciting incident, it sparked a war that flames up again about this time of year. In fact, as I write this I’m flushed and out of breath from the first volley of the 2011 Great Acorn war. Over the years, my aim has improved and I hit my target (in this case my brother Matthew) more than I get pelted myself. Note to self: watch your back while exiting mom and dad’s house for the rest of the month.
The rules of engagement are quite simple: you have thirty seconds to gather as many acorns as you can fit into your hands and pockets, then run. You can duck around trees but you have to stay away from windows. Headshots are allowed, but the face is off limits. When you’re out of acorns, reload as fast as you can, but be aware — your opponent can still hit you if he or she still has ammo. And finally, the aim is to have fun, not to hurt anyone.
So what do acorn wars have to do with writing? First, stories like this aren’t unique to my family. By incorporating them into my fiction and non-fiction writing, I’m not only sharing a part of my life with my readers I’m inviting them to recall some of their own childhood experiences which in turn makes my story, real or imagined, more relatable. Second, getting up from the desk and acting like a kid for a little bit isn’t just fun, it helps work out tension in the body from sitting in one position for too long. Laughing, running, and enjoying nature allows us to forget about the scenes that have ground to a slow crawl. It enables us to clear our minds and look at problems from a different perspective. And it can spark a new idea to run with when you feel like you’ve exhausted all other avenues of thought.
So, put down the pen. Close the laptop. Grab a sweater with big pockets and ambush an unsuspecting loved one. Afterwards you can negotiate a ceasefire over a cup of spiced cider.