An acorn came home with me from the woods. The girls had spent the afternoon stomping along the forest floor, touching the trunks of trees that had seen the last days of summer and could hold onto their leaves no longer.

Fallen branches rested on the ground, and my children rested on them in turn. They collected acorns in their hands and accepted, almost without question, each one as a variation of the same nut. Despite their differences in colour, shape, and size, they plucked them from the dry earth in which they were settled, dropping each one into a bucket. They decided that a few met the standard for being transferred to their small coat pockets, too good to be tossed in a bucket with the rest and so beautiful that they had to be stowed away for further inspection at home.

The acorn that made it into my pocket was transferred to my desk a few days after getting back from the woods. During that time it had rested in the lining of my coat, a small reassuring presence each time my fingers collided with its soft, smooth shell. By the time I placed it on my desk, it had already undergone changes. In place of its bright green coating and the roundness that signified its recent fall from a tree, it had become darker and narrower. Now, more than one week later it is a leathery green, and the striations of dehydration have become prominent. The cupule will soon lose its grasp on the nut, severing the connection of these two parts of its anatomy forever.

This acorn has signified the end of summer and the start of a new season. In just one week the trees have become more certain about allowing their leaves to break down and these changes will provide the beauty of woodland in the midst of autumn. The vibrant reds and yellows that line roads and fill forests have come earlier this year and the colours are easier to enjoy in the warmer weather. These natural changes are an over-used symbol for the way that life is constantly changing and evolving. Soon the leaves will fall from their branches to be consumed by the earth. Beauty can precede a bleak landscape, but if I can stand firm through the depths of winter, I should see the first buds of spring appear on the horizon, worth the wait.

Hannah England


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