Hands up those of you who can honestly say you don’t sneak the occasional conker into your pocket at this time of year. I’m sure I’m not the only adult who still gets a little thrill finding a new glossy brown conker on the ground – a split-second regression to playgrounds and autumns past…
My dog-walking coat is currently playing host to a small collection – I start off intending to bring them into the house for a seasonal arrangement, but somehow the coat stays in the car for days on end and finally when I pull them out, they’ve started to shrivel. (There ought to be a message there I feel sure – choose your own).
But although I get very excited finding conkers, I really prefer acorns. There’s something about all that pent-up energy, sitting in its own, beautifully crafted cup, that delights me every year.
Annoyingly, acorns also appear to be the current weapon of choice of our bushy-tailed tree-dwelling terrorist friends (AKA squirrels). Once again the delinquent dog and I are having to sprint through the worst of the danger zones, checking overhead for any signs that the little devils are preparing to attack.
My advice is this – if you go down to the woods today – wear a hard hat.
I’m used to trying to squirrel-spot before the Delinquent Dog does, because experience has taught me that if I don’t, I risk having my arm detached from the shoulder as he races towards them on the end of the lead. This has rewarded me with several good laughs, as I’ve watched Mr Nutkin and friends deliberately cross the paths in front of us, taunting the boy with their agility. Sometimes I’ve noticed that a pair will go in one direction and another will whizz round behind him.
Fortunately the poor boy misses most of them as he’s too busy sniffing the doggy Facebook notifications (trees), but we do get the odd attempt to climb trees – I keep telling him not to bother – it only encourages the squirrels to do it more, and let’s face it, even if he wasn’t on a lead, he’s hardly built for climbing, but he takes no notice.
But lately the squirrels have definitely upped the ante, not content with driving him wild and taunting him from the branches, they’ve now started bombarding us with missiles (bits of tree). At first I thought it must just be the wind, but now it’s happening on calm mornings, and with far too great a frequency to be a coincidence. And the force with which some of these cones hit the ground makes me grateful they haven’t yet quite managed a direct hit.
I listened out his morning after another incident and I could almost swear I heard a snigger from up above.
Of course you can’t see the little devils up there in the tree canopy, you’d have more luck trying to find Edward Snowdon in a Russian airport, but I know they’re there, plotting their next evil deed.
So be warned – wear something protective, but on no account wear anything that could resemble a target from above – we don’t want to help improve their aim.