In our neck of the woods, it’s been a hard mast, meaning hard-shelled nuts have fallen in much higher-than-normal levels.
While the uncommon profusion is attributed to an unpredictable confluence of factors, it does provide a feast for squirrels, deer, and other wildlife. Any surplus surviving the predators then has a good chance to refurbish the forests and byways.
As has been noted, nature really is promiscuous.
Lean years, in contrast, limit the animal populations and their offspring.
Mast is most notably reported as acorns, but in our house, overshadowed by a black walnut tree, the golf ball-sized orbs are hammering the kitchen roof and trashcans. We keep thinking people are knocking at our backdoor or something big has fallen over downstairs or outside or even a crazy golfer neighbor is slicing his shots and hitting our house, one-two-three. They’re even a hazard to our parked cars.
Meanwhile, our squirrels are littering the stoops, patio table and chairs, and driveway with messes of shells that stain anything underneath black – is that the origin of black in the walnut variety’s name? But that’s not the only problem.
No, the nuts are so plentiful they make venturing out into the yard a treacherous course akin to walking on ball bearings or marbles. We haven’t fallen yet, but we’ve come close.
It’s especially troublesome when I have a load of firewood in my arms.
We aren’t alone in this, are we?